Where is the Joy?

(One from the archives. Originally posted December 21, 2011, on God Encounters blog, once a women’s ministry of Calvary, Winston-Salem, NC.)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! (Insert melody) Except maybe it doesn’t feel like it.

Sometimes Christmas feels like the saddest time of the year.

There has been so much death and sorrow over the last couple of months. Many families, including our own, will be experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one. Chances are we all know someone who has experienced some kind of loss this holiday season.

My children lost their aunt just before Thanksgiving. She leaves behind a 14-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son. My heart especially aches for that teenage girl who was once my niece.

While putting the finishing touches on my Christmas tree, my oldest two children were attending her funeral in Maryland with their dad and would be traveling back home that evening. As I decorated, I prayed for their family and my heart felt heavy. Somehow trying to be festive and playing Christmas carols seemed wrong. Where was the joy?

A couple weeks later, after dropping my kids off at school, a familiar Where Are You Christmas filled the air waves of my vehicle. As I listened to the words, I couldn’t hold back the tears as I was driving out of the school traffic. Surrendering, I decided to let them freely flow all the way home.

Where are you Christmas?
Why can’t I find you?
Why have you gone away?
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me?
Why can’t I hear the music play?

My world is changing
I’m rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too?

I have felt burdened for those whose Christmas has drastically changed this year. How is your world changing? Is there something that is stealing your joy?

A separation or divorce? Struggling with an illness? The loss of a loved one? Could the Holy Spirit be placing someone on your heart to reach out to this week that needs a little help finding their joy?

As I look back on the Christmases in my life, there are some unusually sad ones that stand out.

For instance, the Christmas Eve that we buried my grandma, my daughter was 6 months old – my baby’s first Christmas. However, we found that focusing on the new life that God had blessed us with helped our family to get through an otherwise very mournful Christmas.

Another would be my first Christmas as a single mom to two small children. Instead of having a terribly “blue” and lonely Christmas after my separation (and I did have my moments), we celebrated with a crowded and noisy houseful of relatives. In an effort to surround myself with people, I opened my home to my whole, extended family.

You see, when we choose to focus on Jesus, the One True Gift, the One who brings new life, a second birth, we find real Christmas joy.

When we are intentional about our worship and keep it all about Him rather than dwelling on our circumstances, we find real Christmas joy. Inexpressible and glorious joy!

You believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)

The birth of Jesus is bittersweet because we know why He came. He came to die for you and me and a world of other sinners.

But there is inexpressible and glorious joy because of what happened next. Jesus conquered death! (1 Corinthians 15:55) And one day there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain! (Revelation 21:4)

Because of Jesus, this life does not have to be the end. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NIV)

The truth is as long as we are still living on earth we will sometimes have to endure sad Christmases. But please don’t let the evil one steal your joy! Jesus reminds us in John 10:10 (AMP) The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

And that is where the joy is, my friends! I pray you find it this Christmas!

Heavenly Father, thank You for the ultimate gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. For without Him, we would have no hope. Thank You for loving us with an unfathomable love. May we keep our focus on Jesus this season and be filled with indescribable Christmas joy no matter what our circumstances. Happy Birthday, Jesus! In Your Precious Name, Amen.


© Christy Long 2011

1 Where Are You Christmas, by Faith Hill, from the album Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas 2000, Words and Music by James Horner, Will Jennings, and Mariah Carey