Christmas is often hailed as the most wonderful time of the year. However, for many, the season is far from joyful. More than a few people would rather sing Blue Christmas than Joy to the World. Studies indicate a surge in loneliness and depression during the holidays compared to other times of the year.
The reality is Christmas, for many people, is anything but a joyful time of year. There are any number of reasons why people suffer from the Christmas Blues — death of a loved one, divorce, memories of holiday abuse from past years — and even mental illness or depression. While most people are basking in the warmth of memories from past Christmases, some are shivering from the chill of broken Christmas promises or the absence of a cherished family member who once filled a seat at the Christmas table.
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And to make matters worse, we can be so into our own joyful Christmas celebration we might overlook those around us who are not filled with a festive spirit. Or if we do notice them, we may be tempted to simply dismiss their lack of cheer as mere Scrooge-like behavior. However, there is often more to the story than they are simply a Scrooge who hates Christmas. The pain and grief experienced by many this time of year are often rooted in legitimate struggles. The stresses of real life do not magically disappear with a chipper “Merry Christmas!”
If we take our role as Christ’s ambassadors seriously, we should make sure we aren’t so caught up in our own celebration of the holidays that we miss ministering Jesus’ love to those who are seriously hurting around us.
Here are a few simple suggestions that can help.
First, open your eyes. Those who are hurting or lonely are there, often right in front of us, but we can be too busy doing Christmas that we do not even see them. Do not assume that those with a “Bah! Humbug!” demeanor prefer to be that way.
Second, open your heart. Yes, our Christmas list is usually cram packed with more than enough chores and responsibilities for us to do. But busyness is no excuse for us to neglect our responsibility to love our neighbor as ourselves. Make room in your heart to love someone who may have no one else to share the joy of the season.
Third, open your circle. Hurting people will not come to us and ask if they can crash our Christmas party. Often, they will need more than one invitation. Don’t be afraid to be persistent. No one wants to feel like they are an imposition, so do your best to convey a “the more the merrier” attitude.
Get out of the comfort of your own Christmas bubble and go share the joy of the season with someone who may be feeling truly miserable today.
Let’s not settle for mere Christmas wishes when so much more is needed. God came near when Immanuel entered our desperate situation. We can do no less for the hurting people around us today.