Struggling to feel holly and jolly?
As the song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” Yet, for some of us it’s been hard to move into a space that reflects the reality of that sentiment.
It may have been months since you last hugged your grandchildren, parents, or grandparents. Some of us are grieving the loss of a loved one or a friend. Others of us may be struggling with a financial situation or job loss. Still some are battling illness or healing from one.
No wonder it’s a struggle to feel holly and jolly, despite the abundance of sparkly tinsel.
As Americans, we have smuggled some cultural ideas into our theology that lead to disappointment when the Christmas “experience” doesn’t measure up to what we thought it “should be”.
One distortion is that our Gospel lacks the placement of suffering and difficulty as a necessary component to the Christian life.
We’ve romanticized the manger, but it was a place of struggle. The first century world was harsh and characterized by pain, fear, poverty, disease and death. Don’t forget, Herod attempted to kill Jesus!
The prophets waited a long time amid devastating realities for a promise they didn’t fully comprehend. Sometimes they struggled to hope, other times their faith seemed extraordinary, but regardless they never minimized the harsh reality of their world. Instead, they rooted their hope in the promises and character of God despite their situations.
If we turn to our Christmas trees, lights and ornaments thinking that the sparkle of our trimmings will ease our difficulties, we are going to be disappointed. It won’t. While these things may make a smile for a few days, they can’t shift our perspective or alter our circumstances.
God with us
Here is the thing, if you are struggling with the realities that you are facing, Jesus isn’t put off by your struggle or by a lack of “holiday spirit”. In fact, these hard moments are the type of places and spaces where He does some of His most brilliant work in us.
So, let’s lay down the false ideas and expectations about the Christmas season that actually work against us and instead let us draw near to Immanuel, God with us, because the transforming power of Jesus is really what Christmas is all about.
Keep fighting for time in the Word, especially when it gets hard. Hold on to people, even if it’s through Zoom, because people are the whole reason Jesus came to this earth and they are the reason we are still here.