Christmas is a painful season for many, for the more family and home and love are celebrated, the more we feel our lack. Whether you’re feeling the loss of a loved one, the straining of a broken relationship, or a thousand other reasons for loneliness and pain, Christmas can indeed be hard. There’s something about walking into church during those hard seasons and hearing only Christmas carols that’s depressing, as if the happiness on everyone else’ face (which is often merely a facade) only heightens your own loss or loneliness.
As I’ve emphasized earlier, the purpose of Christmas is not to numb, but to make us feel again. Not to escape what we’re facing but to face reality, and find healing in the midst of it. Behind all the merriment of Christmas that may feel so out of place to a hurting heart is the only balm that will truly comfort our souls.
Christmas is about the gospel. And instead of hating Christmas altogether for the painful reminders it may bring, lean deeper into the meaning of it. Yes, you may not feel like singing “Joy to the World.” That’s okay. But don’t let that keep you from letting the story of the gospel, “the Lord has come,” sink in deeply. Christ humbled himself and came, not into a Thomas Kinkade world, but a world of brokenness and sin and hurt and unfulfilled longings. He voluntarily offered to live that life alongside us, walking with us in our pain, identifying with sinners, and taking upon himself the full weight of the sin and guilt that causes all this suffering – all that we might know him and his comfort!
When we re-orient our focus upon the gospel, it transforms the meaning of Christmas. Yes, family and relationships are a blessing, but they are not the center. Christ is. His love and closeness is far deeper, far more sufficient to meet our longings than anyone in this world! May we look to him this Christmas, and find him the Balm our hearts need, the Shepherd of our lonely valleys, and ultimately, the reason for our joy.