5 Ways Hardship Helps Us Experience the True Meaning of Christmas
- Cortni Marrazzo Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 16 Dec
Christmas time, especially in today’s media, is often portrayed as the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time to spend with family and friends, as well as a time to remember all we God has blessed us with in the past year. While this may be the case for many people, there are many who will find themselves sad and discouraged at this time of year, rather than happy and joyful.
Going through hardships can make the holidays the worst of time of the year instead of the most wonderful. It can be hard to be thankful for family when yours is torn apart by death or divorce, and the season of gift giving can be extremely stressful when you can’t afford to pay your rent, let alone buy presents for your kids. When you face situations like this around the holidays, all the sappy commercials and movies seem to spit in your face and add insult to injury. How can a holiday that is supposed to celebrate the birth of Jesus cause you to feel so low?
Obviously hardships are not enjoyable, but they may be just what can help us realize the true meaning of this holiday. Feeling empty at this time of year can put us in a place to be filled with what God truly gave us on that first Christmas: Christ and his love. How can feeling so badly help us realize the true joy of Christmas? Here are a few ways:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:23).
One of the most amazing things about the gift of Jesus that God gave us is the fact that we can have God’s presence with us at all times in our lives. The blessing of this privilege is never more apparent than when we are facing tough times. When we are walking through a tough situation, especially during the holidays, we can take comfort in knowing that God is with us through it all and that he will never leave us.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you]" (John 16:33, Amplified Bible).
It is guaranteed that we will face tough situations in our lives because Jesus told us so, but he also told us that we can have peace (perfect peace, even) in the midst of our struggles. Not only that, but he reminds us that he overcame the world and has deprived it of power to harm us! What an encouraging verse! When God gave us his son, he gave him the power to overcome the world so that we may have peace when we face issues in our lives. Because of this gift, it is possible to be going through an incredibly difficult time in your life and still have peace in your heart and mind.
Discouragement around the holidays for many people is a result of some kind of loss, whether that is from the death of a friend or family member, divorce, estrangement from family, financial issues, or something else. As hard as loss can be in our lives, it has the potential to actually increase our gratitude and appreciation for the other blessings in our lives. Facing the loss of a loved one can make you more invested in the loved ones you still have around that you have may have previously taken for granted. Facing financial strain can take your focus away from the consumerism of Christmas and put it back on what really matters, which is family, friends and most importantly, the gift of Jesus in your life. It can be easier to get caught up in the hype and consumerism of the holiday when everything in your life is going well because nothing is clamoring for your attention to focus on what’s really important.
"I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please’" (Isaiah 46:10).
God’s original purpose for mankind was to have a close intimate relationship with them. Even though that intimacy was broken in the Garden of Eden, God still made sure his purpose was carried through through the sacrifice of his son. When we celebrate the birth of his son, we can remember that God’s purpose for our lives can still be accomplished no matter how much we mess up or how hard life knocks us down. When we feel like we have hit rock bottom, we can rest in the fact that God is not done with us and he can still accomplish his purpose in our lives. Nothing can keep him from doing so.
"And this is what he promised us—eternal life" (1 John 2:25).
The world we live in runs rampant with evil and sin and unfortunately, in our earthly lives, we will all be negatively affected by that evil in some way or another. One of the most wonderful aspects of God’s gift of his son to us, is that we will only live in this evil world for a short time, but we get to spend eternity in paradise, where there will be no more suffering or pain or sadness. Earthly blessings are wonderful, but the true gift of Christmas is that we have an eternity full of joy to look forward to, that we get to spend with our Savior. Any pain and suffering you may be feeling this holiday season is bound to increase your anticipation and gratefulness for the real meaning of Christmas.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:3-4).
Cortni Marrazzo currently resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband Jason and their two sons. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. She and her husband currently serve as small group directors at their local church. You can contact her at Cortni.Marrazzo@gmail.com or on Facebook.
Publication date: December 16, 2014