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Christmas is such a special time!

I’ve always loved Christmas but having it with my children has brought back all the childhood wonder and I’m so grateful for their enthusiasm. 

But… I’m 4 days behind on my advent study, our family is grieving deep loss, we haven’t done half the things I’ve wanted to this month, I have a TON of shopping left to do and all the wrapping, and our story looks much different than we ever expected. 

Sometimes, the wonder of Christmas feels exuberant and joyful. Other times it feels like a heavy burden to bear when the joy just feels distant. I need Christmas encouragement and to be reminded of truth this season – truth to anchor my soul – and I’m guessing, you do too.

As a dose of Christmas encouragement to our potentially weary, definitely exhausted hearts, let’s cling to this truth:

Christmas isn’t about us, our families, or the “magic” of the season.

Gospel hope for the Christmas season

There is so much pressure at Christmastime. We feel the need to add into our already overflowing schedules every tradition we’ve ever dreamed of. We decorate and make cookies and visit Christmas lights and go to Christmas concerts and host parties. It is all so beautiful but it’s also exhausting! 

Then, when something doesn’t quite work out – the kids get sick or the cards don’t get mailed or the tree ends up lop-sided – we heap guilt on ourselves like we have somehow ruined Christmas. 

But as Christmas encouragement, the truth is: we can’t ruin Christmas because it isn’t about us

People say nice things like “this time of year makes us remember that family is really what matters.” But, then the times that feel like we are failing at family only add to our guilt and difficulty. 

To be honest, this time of year isn’t really about us, our families, or our traditions. It isn’t about the spirit of giving or the “magic of the season”. 

This time of year is about something much bigger than all of that. 

It is about something that we literally can’t ruin. 

We just aren’t powerful enough and neither are our circumstances. 

We can rest in that. 

This time of year is about Jesus. 

It is about the story of redemption that started way back in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose pride and selfishness over perfect communion with God and, as a result, they became enemies of the God who made them. 

In the Garden, God promised them one day redemption would come. One day God would undo all the wrong they had done. One day he would crush the head of the serpent and restore his creation. 

What followed were generations upon generations of people who failed and sinned and treated one another with cruelty and disregard.

But, God was on a mission to save his people and none of the sinful people we read about in the Old Testament were strong enough to stop his plan. 

When the fullness of time had come, Christ stepped into his creation (Galatians 4:4-7). He took on flesh, lived inside a woman’s womb, and was born. 

That night fulfilled so many of God’s long foretold promises. That night God showed everyone that no matter how sinful we are, no matter which traditions we botch, which parenting flaws we have, or which cares of this world we let our eyes focus on, he is still faithful. 

Nothing in human history was able to stop God’s plan. Nothing in our stories this year can take away from the power of that plan either. 

Hope for our restless souls

So, for our restless souls this Christmas – looking at everything we’ve been hoping to accomplish that hasn’t gotten done, or staring at an empty chair that makes all the holiday cheer feel dull and grey, or feeling like our Christmas will never live up to the standard in our minds – we can know this: the goodness of this season isn’t about us. 

It’s ok if we miss some traditions. It’s ok if we sing our carols with tear-stained faces. It’s ok if our gifts are simpler or our food less rich or our gatherings quieter.

The goodness of this season is about the Person we celebrate. It is about the radical plan of God to redeem his people in such a way that no one else gets any glory and no one can ever thwart it. 

Come and Rest

Rest, dear friends, God is on the throne, even if we never do catch up on those advent studies or our tears flow more readily than the snowflakes. 

It is all working together for the good of those who love God and it is not diminishing the beauty of this season in any way. 

Christ came and he did so with a plan to redeem his people. He accomplished what he set out to do. He lived a perfect life, died in our place, and rose from the dead to pronounce victory over sin and Satan and death. 

God’s purpose in Christmas can never be diminished by our celebrations of it. We look back on human history and see his faithfulness. We look ahead to our celebrations and see his kindness. 

Nothing in our lives can stop the beauty of this season. For that we can be thankful and, on that basis, we can rest. 

And, if that isn’t Christmas encouragement, I don’t know what is.