Christmas time does not feel like a joyful time for everyone. During this time, there are people in hospitals, mourning the death of a loved one, living far from home and missing their friends and family, or struggling financially. For so many people, the season can be a difficult and lonely time. It simply does not feel like Christmas.

Rather than holding out comfort and joy, Christmas time reminds them of their lack and leaves them feeling unfulfilled. Instead of a cheery season, Christmas Day can be a dreary day for many Christians.

What do you do when it does not feel like Christmas? How can the season of light spell good news for people who are in a lonely darkness?

It Does Not Feel Like Christmas in the Darkness

The advent of our Lord Jesus comes forth into a world that is broken and fallen. It is precisely in despair and darkness that the story of Christmas begins to make sense. Jesus enters a world of suffering amidst the tears of the saints of God. In the 8th-century Latin hymn, Veni, Veni, Emmanuel (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel) we see this truth stated clearly.

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear.

The coming of Christ was the expectation and longing of the people of Israel, who for centuries faced the silence of God. Malachi, the last prophet, had long since departed. The people returned from captivity in Babylon and repossessed the Promised Land under Ezra and Nehemiah. But once again, a series of oppressive foreign rulers overpowered them.

In this dark time of hopelessness, the Lord Jesus is born humbly into our demented world.

Many empires took their turn to intimidate, subjugate, and oppress God’s people. Under Alexander’s Macedonian Empire, the Seleucid Empire, the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt and finally the Roman Empire, the people of ancient Israel were captive in their own country. It was a lonely exile. They were weak and unable to help themselves.

God’s people struggled with sin and languished alone in the darkness. The promises of Yahweh seemed to have failed and there was little hope for a future of peace. However, the promises of God had not failed.

The Promises of God Shine Bright in the Darkness

Hope in the Birth of Christ

When the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, he said, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Mathew 1:21)”

The child of Mary is God’s hand of salvation to a perishing people. In this dark time of hopelessness, the Lord Jesus is born humbly into our demented world. The prophecy of Isaiah came true. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isa. 9:2).

God sent Jesus into this world to deliver us from the domain of darkness and transfer us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13-14). He brings us into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade (1 Pet.1:4).

God offers himself to bring forth our salvation from the sin and sorrow that afflicts us.

This Christmas, may we take comfort that the consolation of God’s people and the Saviour of our souls has finally come. God has taken on flesh, entered the virgin’s womb, and cries aloud as a newborn. That gentle cry on the cold Bethlehem night stills our restless hearts. For it proclaims that God is with us even in the darkest night. Jesus is our Emmanuel (Matthew 1:23).

Hope in the Return of Christ

God offers himself to bring forth our salvation from the sin and sorrow that afflicts us.

For those hurting, those yearning, those weeping, and those who are lonely, Christmas is not a time for despair. It is a time to remember our blessed hope in Christ. Even when we do not feel like celebrating Christmas in our hearts, we can experience the peace of Jesus in the midst of suffering and pain. In the midst of loss, there is much comfort in Christ.

Jesus appeared to us and he will appear once again, to set all things right and to be with us forever. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.

Our Christmas hope when it does not feel like Christmas is beautifully expressed by George MacDonald in his poem, Christmas, 1884.

Though in my heart no Christmas glee,
Though my song-bird be dumb,
Jesus, it is enough for me,
That thou art come.

What though the loved be scattered far,
Few at the board appear,
In thee, O Lord, they gathered are
And thou art here.

And if our hearts be low with lack,
They are not therefore numb;
Not always will thy day come back—
Thyself will come!