“These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)
We’re in the season of celebration, but sometimes it’s hard to be happy at Christmas. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one and the empty place at the table leaves an empty place in your heart. Maybe you’ve recently relocated, and the miles between you and your loved ones make it impossible to see them for the holidays. Maybe you’re struggling with illness or chronic pain, and the thought of leaving the house or inviting guests over is just too much to ask.
I found it hard to be happy at Christmas
Two months prior, my dad fell off a ladder when he suffered a stroke. He sustained serious head injuries and broken ribs. He returned home after a three-week hospitalization, but a second stroke hit him a couple weeks later. This time, doctors doubted whether he’d survive.
I lived on an island off British Columbia’s coast, and my parents lived in southern Alberta. I desperately wanted to rush to Dad’s bedside but couldn’t afford to fly. Driving was the only option, but it meant a twenty-hour road trip that included crossing the Rocky Mountains in treacherous conditions.
My sister and I made the trip together in my wee Geo Metro. Once at my parents’, I juggled time between sitting at Dad’s hospital bedside and helping Mom with whatever she needed. I cried every night that week, wondering what the future held and dreading goodbyes.
Then came the return trip on icy roads through the mountains. Things went okay until a sanding-truck barreled toward us and dumped pea-sized gravel to make the road safer. The gravel bounced off the road and sprayed across my car’s hood, windshield, roof, and headlights.
I don’t think the driver realized what happened, and I couldn’t stop or turn around to catch him on that narrow, icy stretch. He kept going and disappeared around a bend, and I did the same in the opposite direction despite the damage done. (Repairs cost $2000.)
Darkness soon fell, and driving became more hazardous with only one headlight still functional. My sister and I opted to take a route at a lower elevation to avoid a blizzard on the last remaining mountain pass. Snow turned to rain as we headed south, and visibility was poor at best.
I tucked behind an 18-wheeler and shadowed it for miles through the most treacherous part of the journey. By the time we reached the coast four hours later, my neck was a tense mess and my fingernails seemed permanently embedded in the steering wheel.
I felt guilty and sad and weary to the core
By now Christmas was only two weeks away, and I was finding it hard to be happy. It felt wrong to party while my parents suffered. I felt guilty decorating our home and wrapping gifts. I felt ticked off about the $2000 car repair bill. I felt weary to my core. I had no desire to attend carol-sings or a candlelit Christmas Eve service. I couldn’t have cared less whether or not we trimmed a tree or cooked a turkey dinner.
The only things on my wish list were my dad’s survival and a big, strong Daddy to wrap me in His arms and say, “Don’t be afraid. I’ve got you. Everything’s going to be okay.” I needed my heavenly Father to hold my heart close to His. I needed Him to infuse me with energy so I could at least serve my husband and kids and make their Christmas special.
Jesus, our Everlasting Father, cares about us
Can you relate? Sometimes life is flat-out hard. Thank heaven we have Jesus—our Everlasting Father—for such times as these. He remains consistent when everything around us changes and thrusts us into a new normal. (Hebrews 1:10-12) He’s always there for us, ready to listen to our cries and eager to help us in our weakness. (Psalm 34:17)
If you’re finding it hard to be happy at Christmas, please know you’re not alone. Also know that your Everlasting Father opens His arms wide and invites you to nestle close to His heart.
Tell Him how you feel. Accept His invitation to come, cast your cares on Him, and rest in His never-ending love for you, my friend.
May I pray for you?
“Dear God, thank You for sending Jesus as our Everlasting Father to care for us and hold us when difficult things happen and we find it hard to be happy. Thank You for loving us in this way and for giving us hope for those days and seasons of life. Please help us keep our eyes fixed on You this season, and make us channels of blessing for those around us who may be finding it hard to be happy too. Grant us peace that surpasses human understanding and strength for one day at a time. In Jesus’ name, amen.”