Discovering True Lasting Christmas Joy
Glittering lights, tinsel, the sounds of choirs and bells, family gatherings, festivities, presents carefully wrapped under the tree–Christmas has always been the most wonderful time of the year for me! I remember the excitement I felt as a young girl as Christmas drew near–the decorated tree so innocently overloaded with fragile ornaments, the wonder and amazement as I admired the magical array of lights and decorations that blanketed the streets and neighborhood homes, the caroling, the comforting food and colorful desserts. Christmas held the dearest and most joyous traditions and memories to me as a child!
The older I became, the more the enchantment of Christmas began to fade and started to feel less like a celebration and more of a hassle. Reality slowly set in– unending self-imposed to-do lists, annoying holiday traffic, crowded stores, added stress on finances. I recall one Christmas Day a sense of emptiness settling in as I sat on the floor surrounded by the crumbled wrapping paper I had so enthusiastically torn just minutes before. Just as quickly as the excitement from opening the presents came, the thrill was soon gone. Presents I had awaited all year to give and receive felt somewhat hollow at that moment…Was that it? Was this Christmas? Was that joy?
Since then, a subtle sense of sadness would slowly mount around Christmastime. To add to the burden, as life unfolded, it became more and more apparent to me that Christmas was not necessarily a season of celebration for everyone. I was so caught up in my happy, magical Christmas as a child that I failed to take a hard look around me. For some people, Christmas was not a comforting season but a dim reminder of loss, fresh heartache, painful memories or even just a sense of underlying hopelessness that couldn’t be numbed by any number of holiday parties and spiked drinks. And there I was among them, desperately seeking the joy that Christmas so avidly advertised. Happiness abounded during Christmas festivities, but every night like the sun, it would hide away only to be awakened at the dawn of the next exciting event. I longed for joy. Not cliché joy, but the real deal, down-in-your-heart, hopeful, lasting joy.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
– Oh Holy Night
It was then I was reminded of one my favorite Christmas carols, “Oh Holy Night”. I closed my eyes and imagined a world full of hurting people stumbling through the darkness, awaiting–with longing–their redemption, searching for meaning…and He appeared! There it was, a new beginning–a dawn of worth, hope and JOY; a seed of hope planted into the very being of humanity. It was then I realized that it is only this hope that brings the joy all of us seek in life; the unconditional love and salvation from a perfect Father. The sharing of that love makes that joy spread and live on inside us!
I have since learned to stop looking around at the circumstances and at things and realize that true joy comes from above! Christmas is not magical, but is in fact a celebration of a divine mark in the timeline of humanity; God’s divine appointment to rescue us and lay before us everlasting life, here and in the ages to come! The God who created the universe loved us so much that He did everything it took to stay in relationship with us. Nothing, no one, can ever take HIS love away from us. He has a beautiful plan for your life and mine. The joy derived from that very thought outlives every holiday season and engraves itself into the very core of our beings—This is real JOY!
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Have a very Merry and JOYOUS Christmas!