By Melissa McLaughlin
If we are honest, we would all admit having experienced this at some point… The world around us dances merrily to the joyful strains of Christmas hallelujahs while we sit quietly, the inner hum of sadness drones on, a low and steady beat in our spirits. We may smile for the camera, sing along to the Christmas carols, bake cookies for the family gathering, but underneath it all, the soul-weight pulls downward, like a gravity of the heart.
Though we read once again the story of our Savior’s birth, we find no joy in His coming.
Though we remember Him, born as a humble child, we see no wonder at this gift.
Though we sing of angels and shepherds and kings bowing down, our worship seems hollow.
Perhaps it was the loss of a loved one.
Perhaps the loss of a job or ministry.
Perhaps the loss of our health.
Or perhaps just the slow grind of life in a broken world, that gradually wore away our gratitude for God’s blessings.
No matter the cause, the problem remains.
How do I celebrate Christmas when I feel sad or low?
The answers are not complicated, yet when we are feeling weak, weary or worn, they are not necessarily easy.
1.The first step is to admit how you feel to God. Take it to the Lord in prayer. God is not threatened by our feelings, even when they appear overwhelming to us. He is our loving heavenly Father and He desires us to draw near Him with the entirety of our being, the good, the bad and the difficult. The phone line to God’s heart is never busy and He waits longingly to hear the sound of each person’s voice in prayer. Talk to Him, call to Him, cry to Him. God is always ready to listen.
2.Next, seek God’s comfort in His Word. God has revealed His nature, His heart and His ways to us through His Word, the Bible. Reading the Bible helps us hear God’s voice and receive His love. His truth can ring out over the hustle and bustle, the noise of our world and the whispers of defeat Satan murmurs in our ears. Read His Word like your life depends on it. Because it does.
Often when I am feeling overwhelmed, I will read the Psalms. Out loud. Reading the scriptures aloud helps you slow down your reading, read more deeply and hear the message of the words in a new way. Take your time reading and let God’s Word speak a new reality into your innermost being.
Many Bibles have a topical index with scriptures on subjects like comfort, peace or strength. This is also one of the best features our internet has to offer. You can conduct an internet search on any topic, by typing the topic word and adding the word “scriptures” or “Bible verses” and it will provide you with countless lists of topical scriptures.
Here is one example: Bible Verses to Comfort You by Biblestudytools.com
After I have collected Bible verses, I write them on cards or slips of paper and hang them around the house or place them in a visible spot in my car, in order to meditate on and memorize these scriptures. This way, I can read and reread and reread these verses allowing God’s Word the opportunity to occupy more space in my mind than my feelings.
3.Another helpful strategy is to praise God in the storm. Sing along to or listen to Christian worship music. It sounds like a small thing, but praising God through your tears or hard times reaps rich rewards. You can even say aloud, “God, I praise you when it hurts. I praise you when I’m sad. Because you are God and you are good. I praise you for Jesus, who died for my sins and won for me eternal life. I praise you, for this world is not my home. You have gone ahead to prepare a place for me in heaven. No matter what happens here and now, I praise you!”
Praising God in the midst of sorrow is like flipping a switch. A dark room is suddenly flooded with soft, illuminating light. Our eyes can view to new distances. We can now recognize what was formerly hidden or hazy. We can see God again in the light of Christ. The difficulties may remain, but praising the Lord despite the pain, allows us a vision of God through it all.
4.Finally, ask a trusted Christian friend to pray for you AND with you. Oftentimes we ask others to pray for us, then we both walk away. That may be good and helpful. However, when we hear another person pray aloud WITH us, voicing our needs, before our God, in our presence, the audible prayer can lift us higher and bring us deeper healing.
If the Christmas season is something you dread this year or if you find yourself just trying to “get through”, you are not alone. Pause and lean a little harder into Jesus. By setting aside a few extra minutes for personal prayer, Bible reading, songs of praise and partner prayer, we free up our clenched hearts for the gentle touch of our Savior to hold us day by day.
Along with these strategies, we remind ourselves that one day, our Messiah will make all things new. On that day, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4
For anyone who places their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, this is our comfort of all comforts. A soul-comfort that goes beyond any sorrow of this life. Because of Jesus, we have no guilt in life, no fear in death. This is the power of Christ in me. (Excerpt from “In Christ Alone”)
How do we celebrate Christmas, even in the hard times?
Because of Jesus, we can…
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Please join me in prayer. Heavenly Father, we praise you from the mountaintops and from the valleys, for even in the valleys you are God and you are good. We lay before you our sadness, sorrows, frustration and stress. We ask you to give us a fresh perspective as we read your Word, the Bible. Encourage our hearts as we gaze upon the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Help us raise our voices in songs of praise, for we know that praise lifts up your name and lifts up our spirits. Direct us to a Christian friend who could pray with us, for where two or three are gathered, you are in our midst. Send your Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to permeate our thoughts, our words and the attitudes deep in our hearts. Help us rest in you alone, for you are our Creator, Provider, Sustainer, Savior, Shepherd and King. Let us see Jesus anew this day. The One who made the trees, came as a babe to rest in a wooden manger, then laid down His body on a tree for our sins. May the magnitude of your great love for us, give us peace and fill us with hope once again. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
For additional tips on the power of prayer in tough times, check out my book, available on Amazon: In Dark of Night When Words Fail, Voice of Jesus Pray for Me. “This book is a great resource to keep on hand and share with anyone who is struggling, new to faith, or working on their prayer life!” (Customer review by Jamie T.)
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God bless you, Jeff! May Jesus shine brightly in the hearts and lives of all you love this Christmas.
Worship always makes me feel better. There is something to getting our eyes focused on God that lifts us out of our doldrums. Great advice!
I agree, Lisa. Worship and praise make a powerful tool against our internal feelings of heaviness or stress. Refocusing our eyes on the glory of the Lord Jesus does wonders for the soul. Blessings to you and yours!
Amen! God’s light fills in all the crevices of a broken heart…He illuminates us with his love.
Oh Linda, how beautifully stated! His light seeps gently through our broken cracks. Miracle of miracles, the Light of the World loves even me and you!
There is comfort in your words. Thank you.
Thank you, dear Melissa. Glory to God, the Bringer of light, hope, comfort and joy through the gift of His Son, Jesus!
Thanks for sharing this encouraging reminder of God’s word to carry us through periods of sadness.
Dear Melissa, thank you for taking time to read and comment. You are right, God’s Word is a powerful tool to deflect sadness of the soul. His truth speaks a sweeter melody and cuts through the darkness like nothing else.
1 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
May God bless you, Melissa, and surround you with His peace.
I love all these suggestions, Melissa! It’s certainly important to admit how we’re feeling to God, and I also love the point about asking for prayer from friends — and then actually praying with them. Hearing others pray for us can be such an encouragement!
Thank you, Emily! Working through sadness and stress begins with an honest conversation with God. That alone is a comfort. And yes, then praying aloud with a trusted friend is a soul-gift. Blessings to you and yours this Christmas season!
Wonderful advice. Thank you!
Thank you! These are tips from my own struggles to seek the Lord during times of sadness and heaviness. I pray it is helpful to someone else who needs it. Glory to the God of all comfort!
Very encouraging, Melissa! Thank you for the suggestions on how to read the Bible during difficult times. I also love the Psalms. I agree with your insight, “Reading the scriptures aloud helps you slow down your reading, read more deeply and hear the message of the words in a new way.” I will also write them down, word for word, so I can pay attention to the truth. It’s easy to skim over what we are reading, especially scriptures we have read many times, and miss the message God has given us that day. 🙂
Thank you, Marcie, for your encouraging words! All glory to Jesus, our Word of life! I appreciate your suggestion to write out scriptures, simply for the opportunity to “hear” those words and take them in more deeply. Wonderful tip. I know my husband was doing that very thing, writing out scripture word for word. The time it requires is a real issue, but we really have to commit to this. Thank you, for you have inspired me to tackle this goal of reading scripture more deeply by writing scripture. And thank you for sharing my post. How kind of you! I pray it helps those who are struggling. I just had a man write to me who has recently lost his job and found comfort from these words. Praying for others who are also struggling. May Jesus be our comfort, hope and light, when all else appears dark. God bless you!
God bless you as you continue to help people experience life in Jesus! 🙂
Reblogged this on The Family Rock and commented:
During a joyful time like Christmas, we may not give any thought to those who may be sad during this season. Loss and loneliness can be very high for so many. Melissa gives great insights on how to find joy and peace during a sad or stressful time this year. Enjoy!
Have I told you lately that you rock? Well guess what? You rock sister!
Thank you, sister! The Rock of ages is our strength, so that’s why you rock, too!
What a great point! I like the way your mind works!
Blessings of Christ be yours!
Thank you for this beautiful post delivered to be read at a stressful time. I’m grateful for your reminders here. I especially love what you wrote here: “Praising God in the midst of sorrow is like flipping a switch. A dark room is suddenly flooded with soft, illuminating light. Our eyes can view to new distances. We can now recognize what was formerly hidden or hazy. We can see God again in the light of Christ. The difficulties may remain, but praising the Lord despite the pain, allows us a vision of God through it all.” You’ve captured that perfectly. That is exactly what happens. How we need to resort to prayer and praise first, rather than after we’ve exhausted ourselves and our own resources. This is very timely for me. Thank you!
Thank you, Melinda, for your kind words! How easy it is to forge ahead first when we really need the Lord, first, most and always. As you say “after we’ve exhausted ourselves and our own resources” – this never leads to a good place. Oh Lord Jesus, turn our eyes back to you again and again when we are in the valleys and all looks bleak. Light of the World, shine in our hearts and minds anew!
Love all these practical tips, Melissa! Especially like how they all connect to each other and connect us to God. When we look at people in the Bible and particularly the Psalms and Lamentations, for example, we see how they cried out to God, lamented and expressed their real and raw emotions. And they prayed, they turned to God’s promises and came to the conclusion He was faithful. May we follow their example!
Thank you, Karen! May our words ever point others to THE WORD, Jesus Christ! You are right, God’s Word includes many examples of His people crying out to the Lord. I’m so thankful the Bible contains real stories of real people relying on our real and Living God. Yes, may we follow their example of honesty and faith. God bless you and yours this Christmas!
Amen I Thx U for this message, I needed this. GBU Melissa!
Dear Jackie, I’m so thankful this message was a blessing to you. Praise the Lord Jesus! He is our comfort and hope, in this life and beyond. I’m lifting you in prayer this morning, dear sister. God bless you!
Hey Melissa! Hope you’re doing well. Wanted to reach out and wish you a blessed season ahead! May The Lord’s Hand upon you be heavy with love, protection, and favor. Thank you for posting prayers earlier this year on my blog , and may Jesus continue to use you to uplift and inspire one and all! Happy 2020! Blessings.
Hello sister! I receive this powerful blessing and pray it back to you, as well! May the Holy Spirit continue to fill you to overflowing as you share His Word and messages, pointing us onward to Christ. God bless you and yours in 2020!
Thank you, Melissa for the wonderful prayer and blessing! God bless you too and superabundantly at that ❤️