When It's Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Buzzkill alert. I hate to do it, but I need to put a little damper on your holiday spirit. So I’ll just say it. Some people don’t enjoy the holiday season. For some people, it’s not the most wonderful time of the year. For some people, it’s actually the hardest time of the year.
This is true for many reasons. Some struggle during the holiday season because of their circumstances. They’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, a financial difficulty, family drama, or some other crisis. But others struggle because, for some reason, the weight of depression and anxiety feels heavier during the Christmas season.
To be honest, I’m not sure why this is. Maybe it’s the stress that comes with spending so much money. Maybe it’s the pressure of all the extra social interaction. Or maybe it’s the crushing expectation that we are all supposed to be filled to the brim with Christmas cheer.
Nobody wants to be the Scrooge. Nobody wants to be the Grinch. Just sing the songs, eat the sweets, send the smiling cards, and for everyone’s sake, be happy. Or at least pretend to be. But for some, all the added lights and glitter serve as a stark reminder that life is not glowing and glistening. Life is not like a Hallmark movie. It’s more like that obnoxious inclement weather alert that disrupts your favorite show.
But here’s the good news for those who suffer during the holiday season. The biblical Christmas story is more similar to your story than to the perfectly scripted ones you see on tv. Jesus wasn’t born into a winter wonderland. He was born into a feeding trough for animals. If we could get a glimpse of the actual scene that night in Bethlehem, we probably wouldn’t want it displayed on our mantel.
From day one, they wanted him dead. His family had to flee the country. His birth resulted in many other baby boys being murdered by the government. His parents must have feared for their lives as well.
So how is this good news? Here’s my point: Jesus knows your pain. He knows it because He felt it. From Bethlehem to Golgotha, from the manger to the cross, Jesus lived a life of suffering. The suffering at His birth is meant to foreshadow the ultimate suffering at His death, where He paid for the sins of His people.
That’s the point of Christmas. Jesus stepping into the darkness to save us. He took on newborn flesh to feel what we feel. That same flesh was ripped from His back as He paid for what we deserved. And on the third day, He rose and defeated the darkness once and for all.
That’s the good news. It’s better than snowflakes and gingerbread houses. It’s better than gifts and gadgets. And it’s better than any holiday fantasy the world tries to label as Christmas. It’s better because it’s real.
By real, I don’t mean that our celebrations and decorations are pointless, just that they can seem hollow and shallow for the sufferer. They don’t make the pain go away, and they can even make the pain worse by furthering the disillusionment that we feel. Real life just isn’t merry and bright.
So for those who are spending the holidays in a hospital room or a funeral home, for those wondering if that person will call or visit this year, for those who are drowning under depression or anxiety, for those who don’t know if they can make it another day, Jesus is with you.
Not the perfectly manicured Jesus on your neighbor’s lawn. But the messy Jesus. The crying Jesus. The hurting Jesus. The lonely Jesus. The crucified Jesus. The risen Jesus. The real Jesus.
He is with you, and He knows your pain. He is with you, and He’s working all things together for your good. He is with you, and He’s interceding for your prayers. He is with you, and He has promised to never leave you.
That wonderful news is true any and every time of the year.