Normally, I love the Christmas season. Who wouldn’t? The lights, the cheer, the celebration of Christ’s birth, no other holiday creates such a spirit of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Yet, instead of joy, this December has felt exceptionally bleak. Anger, grief, and fear seem to have darkened the world.
Across the sea, people flee from war and death and misery. Innocent children struggle to survive, and families are shattered by pain and loss. At home there are shootings, sickness, hateful arguments, and bitterness. How could anyone be happy amidst all this turmoil? According to Cara Joyner, we can begin by overcoming outrage and returning to the spirit of Advent.
Joyner, in a post for Relevant Magazine, asks readers to start and end their Christmas season with Jesus. She writes,
“We refuse to be afraid. We refuse to hate.”
“Fear has no place in the love and peace of Christ. Jesus was never ambiguous about the state of the world we’d be born into. Trouble is promised, but so is peace. His charge to us is to rebuke fear, and instead, being full of faith and the Holy Spirit, to love God and love each other. (Matthew 8:26, 2:31-34, John 13:34-35, 14:27, 16:33)…”
“Jesus consistently ran down the slippery slopes, without fear or hesitation, to embrace the ones the world rejected.”
Joyner also implores Christians to replace their outrage with action. It’s an easy thing to vent one’s rage behind a computer screen, but it takes real courage to step outside and face the darkness. Specifically now, during the month of Christmas, it’s vital that Christians spread joy and love to those who need it. All too many people face the winter holidays weighed down by loneliness and heartache. Sharon Betters, in her article Grieving During Christmas, even offers these useful suggestions for Christians who struggle during the holidays,
“Cut back on activities but do not isolate yourself. If large groups are difficult, plan time with a few trusted friends, but do not withdraw. God created community for such a time as this. Receive the gift of relationships and allow them to be part of your healing.”
“Help someone else. Yes, you are broken and feel helpless and hopeless, and it will be hard to offer help and hope to another. But God's grace enables us and in some supernatural way, uses that very service to strengthen our hearts. And, if you help and your emotions are unchanged, take joy in knowing you served in obedience to our Lord.”
“This one should be first, but see it as the foundation of all the other tips. Spend time with Jesus. You are so vulnerable to His voice and love because you are so broken. He promises to be “near the broken-hearted.” There are "treasures in the darkness, riches stored in secret places" that He has for you - that I believe we do not experience in the light. Be on the lookout for those treasures designed to turn your heart toward Him. He wants you to remember that He calls you by name and He is your Lord.”
Yes, the world is a dark place, but Christmas will always stand as a reminder that light has triumphed over the darkness. In the midst of great suffering, Emmanuel, God with us. The light of the world has come.
What about you? How do you battle darkness over the Christmas season? May you have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
*Ryan Duncan is the Entertainment Editor for Crosswalk.com