This season can be hard. When you're broken or hurting, the celebrations and decorations can just make you hurt more. The Christmas carols remind you of everything and everyone you're missing. The lights bring tears to your eyes. The bright packages just make you think of the one person you can't buy a gift for this year.
The Christmas season can be an almost unbearably hard time when you're in a hard place. And feeling that way when you know everyone else is happy? It can make it worse. You start thinking that you're being a burden to those around you, that you're ruining their Christmas because you aren't happy. After all, "'Tis the season to be jolly," right?
Let me remind you of something--despite what the world has turned Christmas into, that's not what it's about. It isn't about the decorations: snowmen, Rudolph, candy canes, candles, Santa, angels, or twinkling lights. It isn't about the carols. It isn't about the presents. It isn't even about being with family.
Christmas is about a God who loved you so much that He chose to walk with you. It's about Immanuel--God with us. It's about the One who traded the glory of heaven for the heaviness and heartache of this world.
Christmas is about the One who knows all the pain we're going through and makes the choice to walk with us through those pains. It's about the One we can be real with; we don't have to paste on a fake smile and pretend like everything is great:
55 Saying Your name, Eternal One, I called to You
from the darkness of this pit.
56 Surely You’ve heard me say,
“Don’t be deaf to my call; bring me relief!”
57 So close when I’ve called out in my distress,
You’ve whispered in my ear, “Do not be afraid.”
Christmas is about the One who chose the hard road for Himself so that He could walk beside you on yours. He knows your heartache and He promises to wipe away your tears. He was in the fiery furnace, the lions' den, the belly of the whale, and the waves in the storm--He's not going to abandon you in this.
So take heart in the hard times. Don't feel like you have to pretend to be happy. Don't worry about how you're "supposed" to feel or act right now.
Instead, let the One who came as Immanuel wrap you in His arms and whisper in your ear. Let Him comfort you in this season. In the middle of the busy-ness and trappings of this time, let Him remind you of the true meaning of Christmas.
...especially in the hard times.