“I expect to have a colorful Christmas
tinged with every kind of holiday hue
and though I know I’ll find every shade
in the rainbow, this design of mine will be mostly blue.” *
For most people, the color blue doesn’t have a major place in their Christmas celebrations, except maybe as a bulb in a string of multi-colored lights. But for others, blue is an emotion that colors the hours and days of this “most wonderful time of the year.”
Many people in our lives, in our churches and communities are walking around with broken hearts – grieving over the recent loss of a loved one, or the breakup of a relationship. The empty place at the holiday table is just one more reminder of that sorrow. Others are battling addictions and illness, or dealing with family discord, financial strain, and the inability to find a job. The season of “comfort and joy” may bring neither for those who deal with depression and other emotional issues all year long.
It’s hard to be merry and bright on the outside when one is shrouded in a fog of despair on the inside. And well-meaning family and friends don’t always understand how you can be so sad at this happy time of year.
To be honest, there have been too many moments this year that have unsettled my soul: the separation of parents and children at our southern border; the mass shootings in a Pittsburgh synagogue, a California bar, and a Texas school; and lives devastated by hurricanes and wildfires. Hope has been difficult to find in news cycles and social media posts that stir up distrust and hatred for certain segments of the population.
But into the sorrow and pain of our lives, comes the Christian season of Advent – the beginning of a new year for the church. From the Latin word adventus, Advent is a time of waiting, a time of anticipation of the coming Christ. We celebrate once again the birth of the Savior, and open our lives to His second coming. We remember our longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning.
We’ll find none of that mercy and grace in the stuff we think we need to open on Christmas morning. If we take time to focus on our faith this season – and not the secular frivolities – we can begin to heal our hearts and restore some of the hope we may have lost. In exploring our own personal darkness, we can discover our greatest spiritual needs. Try setting aside a special time to be in prayer or quiet meditation, or picking up a book of devotions especially written for Advent.
The Christian Broadcasting Network web site suggests three steps to recovery that might assist our Advent journey from darkness to light:
Though grief is bitter, we must let sorrow run its natural course. Isaiah 53:3b describes Jesus as “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Denying or repressing pain can lead to emotional problems.
Believe: We need to put our faith in God’s promises, trusting that God knows best and that God’s understanding is perfect. Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God desires to give us comfort, but we must reach out and accept it. Through prayer and meditation on God’s Word, we can find a place in God’s presence where God will wrap God’s arms around us as a loving parent would console a hurting child.
There are no tidy answers for why illness and suffering occur, but I do believe we can find comfort by ultimately remembering the Good News message of Christmas: A Savior is born to us. And the light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it – no matter how much it seems like the dark night is winning.
When there is more light than darkness, more freedom than addiction, more hope than discouragement, more peace than conflict, we have much reason to rejoice in the gift of a newborn. In the infant is the promise that God is with us and has come to save us.
Believing in the resurrection of Christ allows us to see our grief in a new way; death is not the end for our loved ones, but the beginning of new life – and that promise of new life can bring us hope in what seem like hopeless times.
Praying your heart knows His love in a fresh and wonderful way this Christmas so that you can truly sing, “all is calm, all is bright.”
In God’s care and service,
*Original first verse written by Jay Johnson for the song, “Blue Christmas,” made famous by Elvis Presley.