Several Christmas seasons ago when I had four kids all under the age of five, I struggled immensely through the holidays. I was physically and emotionally drained, sleep deprived, and my husband was traveling a lot with his work schedule. Expectations with how Christmas would be didn’t always go as planned. My joy had disappeared and in fact, I remember using the word “wasteland” to describe how I felt inside managing my kids, home life, and daily adult responsibilities.
In the Christian life, it can be easy to allow our circumstances to impact the joy in our hearts. It doesn’t take much to discourage us: a job loss, illness, disobedient kids, unmet expectations, accidents, a broken relationship, death of a loved one, hurting marriage, not feeling like we measure up and more.
So, how do you pray for the joy to return to your soul once again this Christmas? Here are four simple ways.
- Confess your hurting heart to God. “Jesus, my joy is gone. Will you restore it?” can be some of the most precious words for him to hear. There is something about confession that reminds us that we are fully dependent on the Lord for his strength. Confession acknowledges our current state and that we aren’t choosing to hide but need help. It is a beautiful thing when we cry out to God to do what only he can.
- Pray for light at the end of the tunnel. “Jesus, I need a way of escape. I need your deliverance.” Sometimes we just need a Jonah moment in our life. We need God to work powerfully in our life and get us out of the deep dark, nasty hole. We need a miracle. Prayer is our weapon against the Enemy’s lies and attacks too. When we pray, we ask God to do what only he can.
- Accept help from others. Pride is always something that stands in the way of reaching out and asking for help. Choose humility instead and realize that those who love you are happy to offer a helping hand, especially in moments of deep crisis and pain. Don’t let an attitude of “I can do this on my own” keep you from experiencing the blessing of others lifting you up and encouraging your heart. God wants to use the body of Christ for the benefit of others, including you!
- Give yourself grace. In dry and difficult seasons it seems like the world is off color and offset. Even your own heart and how you perceive life can be very dark. Remember to extend grace to yourself and your situation. We’re often most critical of ourselves in those times and it’s easy to beat ourselves up. Soak up Jesus’ new mercies for each new day and wait in anticipation for his rescue. He will lift you up in due time. Wait on Him.
Looking back on that wasteland season with my kids, there was still so much hope in my life. While my husband had to be out of town Christmas day, my parents provided an abundant Christmas and multiple homemade meals for all my kids. I’ll never forget how all the sparkly, ribbon-wrapped presents overflowed out of our pre-lit tree and the adorable video footage we captured. Several friends from my Mothers of Preschoolers group and family members came to my aid with meals, gift cards, and babysitting my kids (the best gift ever!). Somehow I survived to write about it and my heart feels with joy thinking about it to this day.
This Christmas season, my kids are all nine and under. I have new, unique challenges and there is still a temptation to think God has left me in the moments of chaos and confusion. But I want to choose joy, and I am striving for it even though it can be really hard. I want to live an abundant life in Christ and I know He is the one that can give me the joy I desire.
Will you join me?
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.