By Sarah Frazer, Crosswalk.com
As I entered the store, the Christmas songs played in the background. My heart felt heavy as I grabbed the cart and began to get the things on my list. The music followed me around the store. Even though I love Christmas music, at the time, my heart felt really sad. The holiday season tries its best to be filled with bright colors, twinkling lights, and upbeat music. The truth is sometimes our hearts are not ready or in a place to celebrate, even if the whole world seems to be rejoicing.
As Christians, sometimes we feel the extra pull to be happy during this season because of our faith. We believe this was the time of year God came to earth: Emmanuel! God with us. Jesus’ birth was worshiped by the angels and the wise men. Shouldn’t we be joyful as well?
What can you do when your faith feels weak at Christmas? No matter if it is a loved one who is missing or a feeling of dread because of health issues, there are countless reasons we might feel faithless during the holidays. Our emotions don’t take a vacation, and our spiritual battles might linger even during Christmas traditions and celebrations.
Of course, we know we have reasons to rejoice, and there are times when our hearts do lift up in praise to God for this wonderful season, but we also remember that Jesus didn’t come into a world filled with peace and joy. Jesus came into a world broken and hurting. I think it is important to remember that Jesus came from those like you and me who might be struggling with a weak faith this Christmas.
Let’s set aside our guilt and lean into these truths from scripture as we walk through what might be a difficult holiday season. It would be easy for us to think about the gifts we give or receive this season, but what if we remembered that Jesus gives us three amazing gifts:
1. Jesus Gives Understanding
Jesus understands our frailty. He understands that we are human and we struggle with things. These “things” we struggle with, they aren’t just “things.” They are real problems and real sufferings and real griefs. He experienced these struggles as well. Each heartache Jesus knows intimately what that feels like.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16
Jesus understands that we struggle to believe in truth and joy at Christmas. It is hard to keep having faith when our hearts are broken and feel like our faith is holding on to a thread. Turning to Jesus with our weakness is exactly what He invites us to do - even during Christmas time.
Our weaknesses do not throw Him off. He is not repulsed by them. Our weaknesses, our sufferings, our griefs, and disappointments should draw us to Jesus. He isn’t waiting to condemn. (Romans 8:1) Jesus is there with open arms, ready to hold us together. This Christmas, if your faith feels weak, go to Jesus. He invites you to “Come” (Matthew 11:28).
2. Jesus Gives Rest
The Christmas season is filled with activities. We have parties, presents, and programs filling our calendars and crowding out peace in our lives. If grief and suffering follow us into the holiday festivities, we might be tempted to just do more in order not to feel the sadness. But what we really want is peace.
The Bible reminds us that Jesus is our Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 6:9) Let’s be gentle on ourselves this Christmas season and realize we might have to say “no” to some activities or get-togethers this season. Peace won’t be found in doing more but in resting.
When our faith feels weak, and we are in the midst of a hard season, it is ok not to go to everything we are invited to. We are allowed to decline. Rest might be the best way to get through the holiday season when your faith feels weak. Don’t shy away from everyone, but know you can always come to Jesus. When you do, there is rest.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
If your heart’s burden feels weary, come to Jesus. He will give you rest. There is peace and rest when our minds our set on Jesus. (Isaiah 26:3; 30:15) Read the Bible daily and spend time pouring your heart out to Him in prayer. Having a daily quiet time with Jesus and saying no to some holiday activities might keep your heart from feeling overwhelmed.
3. Jesus Gives Joy
Joy might have come to the world on that night in Bethlehem, but joy might be the last thing our heart feels going into this holiday season. As I hurried to pick up the items from my grocery list, I didn’t feel like singing “Joy to the World” or any songs because of the heartache I was hiding. Joy was nowhere to be found. In the hidden moments of pain, we might not have feelings of happiness, but joy is possible. As Jesus prepared to die, He spoke to His disciples these words:
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11
What words did Jesus speak in John 15:1-10? He spoke about abiding. Their joy would be made complete as they learned to abide with Jesus. Later, Jesus said:
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:20-22
He acknowledges that we will have pain and suffering, but ultimately our joy will come. It might not be until we realize this truth: Jesus is coming again. Pain and death and suffering will not last forever. Even if it lasts our whole lives, eternity with Jesus’ joy is longer!
Jesus Came for the Broken
The last truth we need when our faith feels weak at Christmas is Jesus came for the broken. Do not feel guilty or shameful if you are struggling through the holidays. Jesus came for that very reason. He has not left you even now. If you would like a simple-to-read devotional, check out this one:
Fourteen women from all walks of life have come together to offer you a light in your darkness and healing for your brokenness. “ A Savior for the Broken: A 14-day Advent Devotional” is a way to celebrate the holidays with Christ close to your heart.
In this unique advent book, you will find daily scripture, a short devotional, a prayer, and reflection questions. An audio version is also included.
Related Resource: Stressed or Burnt Out This December? We've Got The Perfect Podcast For You.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Olga Yefimova
Sarah E. Frazer is a writer, Bible study mentor, wife of Jason, and mother of five. With a background in missionary work, Sarah encourages the weary woman to find peace in Jesus. She is a regular contributor to the Proverbs 31 First 5 app writing team as well as a featured writer for Crosswalk.com. Her favorite place to hang out is Instagram at @sarah_e_frazer.