Do you ever find yourself wishing someone a “Merry Christmas” and feeling like you’re faking it? Instead of absorbing the joy of a season celebrated around the world, you find that your life stresses have only been compounded. Things like decorating a tree, sending out Christmas cards, or buying gifts for loved ones feel more like items to check off a list of chores.
If you feel that way, you don’t have to beat yourself up with a self-imposed “Grinch” or “Scrooge” label. There are very legitimate reasons the Christmas season can be hard to face. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one recently to COVID or cancer. Perhaps you’re struggling with your health or finances. Your marriage or another close relationship could be on shaky ground. A lot of painful life factors can erase the “merry.”
Can I suggest three fundamental steps to restoring some of that joy?
CHANGE YOUR FOCUS
Even when things are difficult and sadness seems to rule your day, you can nurture a mindset that reflects praise for God and thankfulness for all He has done in your life. I promise you, intentional gratitude toward God will begin to lift the clouds.
What are you focusing on this Christmas season? Are you looking intently at everything that has brought you hurt and regret? Or are you able to focus on the One who sent His Son into a hurting world so that the world could be transformed? And remember, the Babe in the manger wasn’t just sent on a global mission — God’s plan was aimed at individual hurting lives. He cares deeply about everything you are going through today.
PRAY AND READ GOD’S WORD
So many times, when I’ve been discouraged, I’ve gone to God’s Word. Without fail, His Word has touched my heart and mind and helped me to gain a better perspective, one that reflects praise for God and thankfulness for all He has done.
Consider Psalm 34:1-3. “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” The author, King David, was a man after God’s own heart. He experienced many trials during his lifetime, but he chose to praise and worship God. Notice the words in verse 1 — “I will.” David didn’t say, “I might” or “If things are going well.” He said, “I will.” David chose to worship God. You can, too.
Prayer is dialogue with God — two-way communication. When you read His Word, God is speaking to you. As you pray and ask God to restore your joy this Christmas season, He not only listens but answers. The amazing fact is that He can help you change your outlook even if your circumstances don’t change.
MAKE A PLAN AND FOLLOW IT
Christmas is a time for giving. God sent His Son to rescue us. Jesus was the greatest Gift of all. What can you give? Plan to give your worship to God by attending special Christmas services. Give gifts to others, especially those who can’t give back. And those gifts don’t have to be material. For example, the time you spend encouraging someone else who is also struggling. Finally, and very importantly, give your plans to the Lord. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3, NIV).
May your Christmas season be filled with God’s love, God’s peace, and God’s joy!