Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

When Joy to the World isn’t our world

You don’t have to live many Christmases before you realize that the emotions of Christmas are not all joy. In fact, some years we may wonder if joy will ever come again.

I’m thinking about that reality now, after hearing from some people who are suffering right now. The causes are quite different, but for all of them, Christmas as they’ve known it seems like another planet.

That makes me want to put it down in stark black and white: Christmas can be hard, really hard, unbearably hard–all the more when we look around at all the jolliness and feel like we’re alone in our grief or pain or loneliness or uncertainty or fear or hopelessness or confusion or alienation or . . . .

A few years ago, I wrote to a friend whose child had come through a crisis not long before Christmas.

I realize that it doesn’t resolve your situation to hear that you’re not alone. But I pray it might help lighten the burden at least a little to see what some others have to say, people who are in your shoes now or they have been there.

These articles are in no particular order and are from from various perspectives. I think it will be quite possible as you read to substitute your own challenges or the struggles of a person you love.

When Christmas Stinks, by Michael Monroe

Joy (and Grief) and Joy at Christmas, by Molly Piper

The angels’ words were a battle cry, by Joni Eareckson Tada

FAS and Christmas, by Julie Martindale

“Suffering is the reason for the season,” Charles Colson

White Elephant: Explain that to an FASD Kiddo, by Barb Clark

He Says There’s Something Worse than Death, by John Knight (poem by John Piper)

God Uses Silly Videos to Make Much of Himself, by John Knight

The Most Important Posting I Will Ever Write . . . & a Christmas Greeting, by Mike Evans

Home for Christmas, by Greg Lucas

Together on the Ledge, by Lisa Qualls

A request to you: Please share with us resources that have helped you in your difficult times.

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4 Responses to “When Joy to the World isn’t our world”

  1. Your blog couldn’t have come at a better time. I just received a prayer request this morning about an 8-yr-old girl whose brain cancer had come back. What devastating news for her parents. I have an 8-yr-old daughter so this news just knocked the breath out of me. It’s never the “right” time to get such terrible news, but right before Christmas has got to be a sheer nightmare for these parents. I just want to thank you Noel for acknowledging this hard truth about what should be the most joyful time of year for us. And thank you so much for including all these supportive articles in your blog. I hope I can find a way to pass them on to this family. Your blog has been such a blessing to me, and I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your “internet ministry.”

  2. What a blessing this post is. My son is having another surgery right after Christmas and it has made enjoying the holiday festivities so difficult for me. So this is such a God send!

  3. Noel, how interesting that you would post the link to what Mike wrote in 2008. I was just thinking today about how hard that Christmas was for me. We know several families that have had great suffering this year: the loss of an 11-year-old son, a boy in the end stages of cancer, a family in our church having a funeral today, which happens to be the same family I mentioned first. My heart aches for them as I remember how I felt in 2008, wondering if it was our last Christmas together. Hopefully the articles you have suggested will offer people hope and encouragement!

  4. Noel, thank you for this post. It helps me remember people in my life who are hurting through this season.

    Last year, Christmas was very difficult for me because of grief. Writing it out helps me (wrote about it here: and also sharing how I’m feeling with trusted friends who don’t expect me to have it al together.

    Merry Christmas!

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