Are you emotionally struggling this Christmas? Do you find it hard to be joyful and happy? If this Christmas is challenging for you, here’s some encouragement…
We all know that the Christmas holidays can trigger many different emotions. This is because there is a sense of nostalgia that often goes along with the season. Celebrating Christmas can trigger past memories, which will make it either a joyful or painful experience. So how can you balance these two emotions and get through a tough Christmas?
1. Remember The First Christmas
It is always helpful to remember back to the first Christmas by reading the two accounts found in Matthew 1:18-2:15 and Luke 2:1-7. When you review the events that took place, “joyful” would not have been the first word that comes to mind. Getting pregnant before marriage, giving birth in a stable, running for your life to a foreign country, would not have been what we would term today as a “Merry” Christmas. In fact, words like tough, confusing, fearful, or painful would have been more appropriate to describe the experience. Yes, there were moments of relief and encouragement but they were only moments. The prevailing theme for the first Christmas would have been “tough”.
The reason it’s helpful to remember back is because we can have a tendency to romanticize the Christmas experience. In doing so, we set ourselves up for emotional failure when it isn’t a pain-free experience. It’s important to remember that a pain-free Christmas is impossible because it isn’t real life nor was it Joseph or Mary’s experience. So be sure to keep your emotional expectations in check and remember when it gets tough, you’re actually participating in the first Christmas experience.
2. Replace Fear With Faith
Another theme that emerges from the first Christmas is faith. Joseph and Mary faced some very tough and scary situations, which required them to either move forward in faith or sit still in fear. It required faith in God to stay together as husband and wife. It required faith in God to give birth in a stable or travel to Egypt with a newborn. Their Christmas legacy was placing their faith in God rather than giving into the fear of their circumstances. Through it all, we can now look back and see how God was faithful!
It’s important to remember this truth when Christmas becomes an emotionally scary place. Fear can be a very powerful emotion and will consume you if you let it. As a Christian, you have the opportunity to replace fear with faith. You have the opportunity to move through Christmas trusting in your Savior rather than your circumstances. This requires a moment by moment decision to not give in to fear, but instead to stay focused on Jesus. It is bringing your thoughts captive to Him rather than letting them go unchecked (2 Cor. 10:5). It is doing what He wants you to do rather than what you feel like doing (John 15:10-11). Every Christmas should remind you of how God shows up and provides when you place your faith in Him rather than your circumstances.
So as you anticipate these next couple of weeks as being an emotionally tough experience, remember this is what the first Christmas was all about and look how that turned out!