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Hope for All Who Are Unhappy This Christmas

By Barbara Rainey

First posted on

As we approach Christmas, I’m wondering today if you are feeling lonely or troubled or disappointed.

The week after Halloween this year I was in a retail store which was playing a Christmas song … too soon already … about the holidays being the best time of the year. It wasn’t a familiar tune so I wasn’t paying close attention, but when I heard the words, “... when everyone is so happy” I thought immediately, “It is NOT true that everyone is happy during the holidays!”

For a few seconds I felt mildly angry. We have hard stuff going on in our lives right now and in that moment it seemed an affront that the song assumed everyone was and should be universally happy all this month.

Have you felt this way, too, some years?

Our culture relentlessly promotes the magical fantasy Christmas of our dreams. Industries literally bank on us funding our holiday fantasies. But this year, perhaps more than ever, the sparkles may only magnify your loneliness. The world has changed a lot since pre-Covid days and life isn’t the same. Everyone senses it even though much of life goes on as it always has.

This year, you may be facing issues that leaven your holiday happiness:

  • Your children are not getting along.

  • Recent family gatherings have devolved into arguments about culture wars and politics. Your attempts to help or bring your faith into the situation fall short, and all you can think about is how you could have handled the situation differently.

  • One of your children is battling a serious illness or disease or is wandering from the faith.

  • Someone in your extended family is failing in health and you don’t know how many days they have left. Or you’ve lost someone dear this year and it’ll be the first Christmas without him or her.

  • Perhaps this year for the first time you are facing a Christmas alone and you don’t know if you can bear it.

  • The economy and the squeeze on small businesses make you wonder if you’ll have any extra cash for gifts this year.

More than ever this year we need the truth of Christmas, that God came to dwell with us as our Emmanuel, even if we fear our holiday experience will be very different this year.

A letter was written ages ago to a group of people who were living in circumstances that were radically different than what they’d always known. These families and individuals were forced to flee their homes because of persecution and find places to live that were safer. While I imagine they were relieved to have found refuge, there were undoubtedly friends, foods, and familiar places they missed profoundly.

Writing to this community, Peter sympathized with their trials and sufferings but then challenged them to “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).

As painful as your circumstances might be this Christmas, is it possible that God is calling you to look honestly at where you place your hope? I know He is telling me that my hope is too often in people, things or circumstances I value as good rather than in Him alone.

In times of hardship, nothing is more life and hope giving than “the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). So here are some living abiding words of truth for you to read that can bring life to your sorrows:

And He will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge” (Isaiah 33:6)

knowing you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers … with the precious blood of Christ …” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession …” (1 Peter 2:9).