From the time we’re young, Christmas can leave us feeling disappointed. As a little kid, you might have longed for a certain gift and gone without it. You might have hoped a family member would be around to celebrate the holiday season with you and found that they were too busy with work or they weren’t able to travel because of weather or sickness. Maybe you hoped Christmas would be more magical than it was, and you ended up feeling disappointed and hurt.
As we get older, Christmas can still disappoint us. After all the special foods are eaten, the favorite stories are shared, and the presents get unwrapped, we might be left with a hollow feeling, like “That’s it?” It seems like Christmas should continue on and be something more.
When we look closely at the Christmas story, we find that the birth of Jesus was a disappointment from many perspectives. People expected the Messiah—God’s promised Rescuer—to be a great and mighty king. No one expected Him to be born into a poor, unremarkable family and laid in a manger. It’s not surprising then that God works through disappointments.
So, when we feel let down during the holiday season, we can take comfort in God’s presence with us—His humble and unexpected presence. After all, Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). When the people in our lives fail to show up in the ways we hope they will, and when traditions fail to be enough, we can lean in to Jesus. He will always be there for us, surprising us with all that He does for us. When gifts leave us disappointed, we can look to the perfect gift He gave us—Himself. Because Jesus came and lived among us, ultimately dying on the cross for us and rising from the grave, we can know that God will always be there for us, in the busy holiday season and all throughout the year. God loves us, and no matter what disappointments we experience, we can celebrate Him this Christmas. • Emily Acker
• What are some disappointments you’ve experienced around Christmas time, either this year or in the past? Consider taking a moment to lament, sharing these disappointments with Jesus.
• Maybe this Christmas isn’t like you expected or hoped it would be, but it can still be good. God helps us be present and enjoy what there is to be enjoyed, and He often surprises us with good gifts. What good gifts might God be inviting you to enjoy this holiday season? (James 1:17)
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)