Merry-Almost-Christmas, dear readers!
I say this every year, but I honestly don’t know how we’ve flipped through yet another calendar year … time flies when you’re having fun (and even when you’re not!).
I’m guessing you, like me, love this season of Advent. The parties, the gatherings, the giving of gifts, the creating of “magic” for our kiddos. Taking a break from the routines of school and work. Spending extra time with friends and family.
It is, as the song goes, “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Except, what about when it isn’t?
In this season, we’re encouraged to reflect back on the year … but sometimes those reflections cause us to wince in painful remembrance.
In this season, we’re told to be filled with joy … but sometimes the heavy things we’re carrying make joy feel unreachable.
Broken friendships. Broken marriages. Loved ones suffering from illness.
Financial pressures highlighted by this season of giving and receiving, adding even more pressure to bulging credit cards and empty bank accounts.
A struggling child. A prodigal child. A heart longing for a child.
Any number of things threaten to weigh us down and burden our hearts. The season of joy can make the heaviness feel that much heavier.
But dear reader, you want to hear the really good news? If your heart is heavy, you’re a living, breathing example of the true reason for the season.
Christmas isn’t simply about traditions and parties and gift giving. It’s about Jesus coming to walk in our shoes, coming to lift our heaviness right onto His own shoulders, coming to give us a hope that cannot be shaken.
It’s about the first flickering of the One true light breaking through the thick, sticky darkness of life on this earth:
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5 ESV)
We don’t often—if ever—discuss darkness during the Christmas season (it doesn’t exactly fit with the Hallmark narrative!). But God wasn’t afraid of our darkness and pain, and He willingly stepped into it in order to show us the way out. This truth offers a far greater hope and joy than our traditions ever could!
Don’t get me wrong, traditions are great, and they absolutely have a special place in this season. So decorate your home to your heart’s delight. Bake and ice a dozen different types of Christmas cookies (I’ll gladly try them out for you!). Make that elf on the shelf do Cirque de Soleil, if that’s your jam.
Just remember, this season is about saving. It’s about grace. It’s about Jesus entering into our pain in the most humble and breathtaking of ways. It’s about the healing you and I need, a healing that cannot be found in Christmas music and twinkling lights.
Our pain is a holy, sacred reminder of our great need for Jesus, for our Savior.
So if your heart is heavy this holiday, you are not alone. You have a Savior who longs to walk with you and carry that heaviness for you.
Indeed, if your heart is heavy, you are primed to experience the most authentic and full joy this season can bring. And it is my fervent prayer that you and I will come to know and walk in that joy in the weeks ahead.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the governments shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 ESV)