Celebrate Christmas with the cheer you have

The common portrayal of the Christmas season is a time of cheer and merriment. Of glad tidings, great joy, and goodwill toward all people. But the truth is, for a lot of people, Christmas is incredibly difficult. Relational difficulties, divorce, or the death of a spouse or other loved one. Financial challenges and job losses. Natural disasters. The fear and anxiety the state of the world brings.

Christmas is not easy, and no one should be expected to put on a brave face and fake it till they make it. But that doesn’t mean that there is nothing worth celebrating, even in the midst of difficulty, grief, and sorrow. In fact, there may be a sense in which there is a more beautiful kind of celebration that can come from it.

The temptation to put on a happy face

In 1868, Charles Spurgeon preached a message he called “Good Cheer for Christmas.” With Isaiah 25:6 as his foundation, Spurgeon described the genuine joy that awaits us in the new creation. This feast in the Lord’s banquet hall, where we will experience delights that we cannot fully imagine. Delights that the best of this world’s are foreshadows of at best, and poor imitations at worst.

While this is tangentially related to his point, we’ve all experienced the pressure to imitate along with the imitations. To try “the imaginary happiness of laughter,” as Spurgeon said. To mix “with the giddy throng, and [taste] the wines of the house of carnal merriment.” If we can just put on happy face, everyone else will be comfortable, we think. And this is true for some of our more superficial relationships, certainly.

A quiet heart, resting in God’s love

But God wants something more and better for us—something that allows us to be honest. To embrace our difficulties, whatever they are, while not abandoning ourselves to despair. That’s why we have these celebratory pictures in the Scriptures, and specifically in the midst of prophecies given to people in the midst of great difficulty. They are there as a reminder for the weary and heavy-laden, for the tired and anxious, that God does indeed care. That he has something more in mind for them. That a day is coming when their burdens will be lifted and they will rejoice him forevermore.

A beautiful, sure promise, even if it is sometimes very difficult to see. But God wants us to look to these as a source of comfort. A way to quiet our hearts and find rest in his love, in the same way that he invites us to do the same through the care of the people he brings into our lives.

There is a dignity, a beauty to this; something we all need to learn to develop. “A quiet heart, resting in the love of God, dwelling in perfect peace,” Spurgeon wrote, “hath a royalty about it which cannot for a moment be matched by the fleeting joys of this world.”

So friend, as we draw close to another Christmas season, do not settle for putting others at ease. Instead, celebrate with what cheer you have, no matter how much or how little. Let your heart find rest in the love of God, and receive the peace his love brings.

Photo by Anna Popović on Unsplash

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.

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One Reply to “Celebrate Christmas with the cheer you have”

  1. […] The Christmas season is not always a time of joy. For many it is a struggle. So how can we celebrate with the cheer we have? — Read on aaronarmstrong.co/celebrate-christmas-with-the-cheer-you-have/ […]

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