Hope for Christmas

As we move steadily nearer to Christmas, I wonder what emotions fill your soul? What kind of journey has 2022 been for you? I’m sure for some of you there has been exquisite beauty in this past year. There have been moments you will cherish for a lifetime. For you, I smile and pray that this Christmas will be a celebration of the joys you have been given. For others, I imagine this year has been transformational in another way.

Perhaps it has been a year that you will look back on and wonder how you lived through, how you survived. To you, this Christmas season is just one final agony to be endured, another grim testing of your fortitude. This Christmas will be like none you have ever had to face before. There may be a new diagnosis or new set of complications. Perhaps you’re facing the first Christmas without someone you formerly held dear.

Christmas, A Wonderful Time of year?

As you look around at the trimmings of the so-called “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” you may be wondering how you will manage to breathe let alone muster up enough energy and forced merriment to satisfy the many demands of the season.

I understand these thoughts. I am familiar–very familiar– with the dread and I know the reluctance to wake each day. Yet I also know the urgency to make the weeks fly by so that the whole season can be wrapped up and tucked away neatly like a box in storage. When you’ve gone through a traumatic experience, days and traditions that have held meaning in the past bring out the naked reality of loss. They expose, in stark black and white, the truths that appear more subdued on the average day. At Christmas we see the gaps and holes clearly and are forced to reckon with them.

What Consumes the Days

During such times, there is a temptation to throw ourselves into grief, to fill our minds with how much poorer this Christmas finds us. We can easily be consumed by how much we have lost since the last time we gathered around a Christmas tree. For truly, many of us are poorer this Christmas.

Some richness, whether it is wholeness, health or the comfort of a loved-one’s hand wrapped tightly within our own, is missing this year; and we could easily let this year’s Christmas be centered on that loss. We could fill the quiet moments of the holiday by going over and over in our minds the sorrow of our plight, the rawness of our wounds; and while I will say unapologetically that there is, and ought to be, time to reflect and to cherish memories during Christmas, I want to suggest that this Christmas does not need to be eaten up with sorrow. We need not let loss or our emotional poverty consume the days of this Christmas season.

Poorer and Richer

You see, I’ve come to learn that though loss naturally leaves us poorer in some ways; loss can actually make us richer in others. The truth is, those who have lived lives untouched by pain have no eyes to see beyond the superficial beauty of Christmas. They remain deaf to the underlying cry of December 25th. But not you. Tell me, do you know after this year of loss, more fully the yearning voiced in the song, “Oh, Come, Oh Come Emmanuel!” Do you understand more completely the sentiments found within these words?


“O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here,

Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free

Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;

From depths of hell Thy people save,

And give them victory o’er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.


O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,

And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.


O come, Thou Key of David, come

And open wide our heav’nly home;

Make safe the way that leads on high,

And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.”


A Song to Christmas

As you read the words, does it echo the craving in your soul? Come! Come mighty Savior–from this pain, this sorrow, this agony deliver me! Deliver us! You see there is a song to Christmas that not everyone knows. A song that lays deep beyond the superficial merriment. Yes, there is a celebration at Christmas. Yes, we hear, naturally, happy tunes and cheerful greetings; for in part Christmas celebrates the fact that Christ came to earth to redeem His people from their sins. But His first advent was merely the beginning of the redemptive work; a sign and a promise that all would one day be well.

Christmas was the beginning to the end of sorrow, not the end itself. In that sense, Christmas is not a time of completion but a time of commencement. Christmas makes a promise that has yet to be fulfilled; and for that reason, Christmas is a time of uncompleted business: a time when hope and sorrow mix together freely and naturally.

Yet those who have not experienced loss nor have felt the sting of heartbreak experience only the milder elements of Christmas. They pass through the season hearing only the basic tune. The entire underlying melody–the craving for wrongs to be made right–the yearning for the Great Day when our Savior cries, “No more!”, the longing for the moment when He lifts your face to behold His own, and with His nail-pierced hand wipes away the tears from your eyes: this they do not experience.

Colors of Christmas

The ache you feel, though painful, can stir up colors this Christmas you have never seen before: colors that can deepen your appreciation for Christ’s first advent. You may now more fully grasp Christ’s astounding willingness to be separated from His Father, to break apart His world of perfection, to transform your broken world into perfection. And You who now know loss can appreciate God the Father’s loss. You who now know pain can now more fully embrace a Savior who experienced pain for the first time that Christmas morning. In this way, you can be richer this year. Your Christmas can be richer, deeper, more precious in spite, and I dare say, because of your loss.

You have the opportunity to draw nearer heaven and bask in the beauty of a promise that will be fulfilled in the days before you. You have the unique opportunity to see, in vibrant colors, the word hope throughout the entire nativity story like you’ve never seen before. There will be great pain this Christmas, but there can flow from that pain a longing, a cry, a hand reaching up to the loving hand that reaches down to you.

Seek for the Richness

As you draw nearer to this Christmas, I pray that your heart will not be filled entirely with dread. For all the pain that will be present, there can be hope, too. For all the loss, there can be a new-found richness. I pray that as you seek to look more closely at the face of Christ this Christmas, you will be surprised by the comfort, the love and the blessings you find.

If you are seeking support through prayer, please visit our Prayers for You page. We invite you to allow us to pray for you… for your heartache, for your family, for your future or whatever is pressing down on your soul today.