Not feeling Christmas-y? You aren’t alone. 

As much as the songs tell us that it’s the most wonderful time of the year and deck the halls, there are many of us who aren’t feeling Christmas-y.

You know that you should be happy during this time of the year, but you are feeling sad or even like the Grinch.

How can you experience joy during the Christmas season when you’re having a hard time?  Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, dealing with a health crisis or marriage issue. As someone who lived through many Christmas seasons under the dark cloud of alcoholism in our home, there were many years where Christmas time was hard and and sad.

But, today I want to share with you how God taught me how to experience joy during the holidays, even though there were many tears.

(By the way, if you want an in-depth message, check out my recent sermon below on finding joy during the holidays when it’s hard.)

To be clear, joy doesn’t mean that you have to minimize or ignore your grief or pain. Joy is an inner happiness that isn’t dependent on what’s going on in your circumstances. Joy is God’s gift that helps you to hold onto hope and peace.

As you wonder how you can experience joy if you’re not feeling Christmas-y, there is ONE thing that God wants you to remember:

Joy is found in the miracle of Christmas, not the magic of Christmas.

Most of us are waiting around hoping that the magic of Christmas shows up. We want that happy fa-la-la-la-la feeling flowing through our veins. We believe that we’ll feel the magic of Christmas when we find the right gifts, if all of the kids come home or if we hav enough money to do what we want.

But, too often our hope of the magic of Christmas is hijacked by the hard and broken in our lives. Even though we long for the magic of Christmas, grief, brokenness and hardship often overwhelms us.

Where does this leave you? Christmas is the reminder that Jesus came to earth to be the miracle that you need this Christmas in the midst of your sadness. What is that miracle?

The miracle of Christmas is embracing the Good News that Jesus left heaven to bring heaven to earth. He came into our broken world to save us from the penalty and consequences of the sin that is the reason behind why life is so hard for you today.

Jesus came because we NEEDED him.

You need him.

I need him.

Jesus came to be WITH us in our our human brokenness and show us the visible image of the invisible Creator of the Universe and Lover of our soul.

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means ‘God is WITH us.’” -Matthew 1:23 NLT

He came to earth so that you could experience WITHNESS with God. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, savor this: God is WITH you, right now.

That reminder should uplift our hearts and thrill us! Remember the angel’s words to the shepherds in the field when Jesus was born:

But the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you GOOD NEWS that will bring GREAT JOY to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! -Luke 2:10-11 NLT

Because Jesus came, you can experience great joy!

The joy of salvation,

The joy of knowing God,

The joy of freedom,

The joy of healing,

and more!  

Here’s the challenge: Instead of chasing or longing for the feeling of the magic of Christmas, shift your focus to expressing your gratitude for God’s gift to you: Jesus. Focus on the Good News and all the reasons for joy that Jesus brings because he came into our world.

Need help to make that shift? Here’s a beautiful song by Francesca Battistelli called “Behold Him” that will help you focus on the miracle of Christmas in Jesus. Listen here.

Did today’s devotional help? Tell me how you plan to stay focused on the miracle of Jesus this Christmas? I’d love to hear from you! 

*If you think that this devotional will help someone who is having a hard time, share this via email or on social media.

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