How to find joy this Christmas when you’re in the middle of pain

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.

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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?

This article first appeared on 

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. 




Subscribe to & receive weekly encouragement:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Mommas Need Good Friday Too


I don’t remember exactly what my son had done that afternoon, but it involved disobedience. I remember where we were – in our backyard on a hot summer’s day in Texas. He was pushing my buttons at just the right time. He continued with his defiance and it was in that moment that I grabbed him and lashed out at him, yelling and all. There is a point as mommas when we discipline for correction and there is a line that we cross when we break a child’s spirit. I had done the latter.

Anger filled my heart. And I was done. I wanted to throw in the towel. Guilt and shame flooded my soul for the way I had hurt him – my precious first born baby whom I loved with all my heart and soul.

After cooling off and just wanting to hide in a corner, I confessed my sin to the Lord and to my son. “I’m sorry, John. Mom is struggling and the way I treated you was wrong. Will you forgive me?”

“Of course, Mom. I love you,” were his words.

Oh the forgiveness that I did not deserve. But with welcoming, child-like faith my son accepted my apology. He loved me anyway and our relationship was restored.

I don’t know where you are in your journey in motherhood, but perhaps like me you’ve been there. Maybe today. You see your brokenness, humanity, and sinful nature for what it is and it ain’t pretty. You would rather isolate and not expose it for what it is. You carry burdens of shame and guilt. You don’t know how to manage it. You know that you simply can’t on your own. I get it.

Jesus does too.

By His Wounds You are Healed

Because of the costly price of our sin, Jesus took care of the enormous debt we could not pay. Because of our sin and weakness, he willingly went to the cross to be crucified. He suffered, he bled, and he died a criminal’s death.

His love ran red for you. His blood on the cross took care of your sin problem. And by his wounds, you are healed.

His wounds save you from the outbursts of anger, the covetousness, the discontentment, the cursing, the lusts of your flesh, the struggle with control, the need for approval, the desire to have more, the need to be successful, the intense struggle with your children, the pride and more.

You see, Good Friday is not just for the church-goer on Sunday morning but doesn’t yet have a real faith in Jesus, but it is for the one who is broken. It is for those who know their great and desperate need for a Savior. Good Friday is not only for the businessman, social worker, doctor, teacher, politician, and more but it is also for the Momma who is weary and trembling in her calling to raise up her children in the way they should go.

Mommas need Good Friday too. And Jesus was thinking of you on the cross. He understands your struggle and suffering too. The truth is that we can’t manage our sin in motherhood, but Jesus can. The truth is that we don’t have it all together and we need his grace every hour.

Stop Doubting & Believe

After Jesus’ victory over death and sin and after he rose from the dead, doubting Thomas still struggled to believe that Jesus was who he said he was – the Messiah. The Savior of the world. More importantly, his personal Savior.

After the resurrection when Jesus was with his disciples, he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

And Thomas responded: “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas had touched his Savior’s wounds. The proof was before his eyes. Jesus was the Son of God. He had no excuse not to believe.

And Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:26-29).

He is for You

There is much we don’t see in our calling as mommas, but do we still believe that Jesus is who he said he is? Do we believe that his wounds have set us free in our struggle with sin and will continue to set us free in the hard days to come?

The good news, Momma, is that the burdens of shame and guilt that you carry have been covered by Jesus’ blood on the cross. I know it’s hard to believe, but you can live in victory over your sin by his strength and in his power. And he is fully able to help make you the Momma you desire to be.

He sees you. He knows you. He is for you as you shepherd the hearts of your children.

And it is in fact, a very, very, Good Friday.

Blessings to you,



Devotional: Casting Your Cares (Day 5)

1415692_17326232Day 5 of 7 Devotionals I wrote for the Spring 2013 Issue of Heart Magazine. Scroll down for the previous days.

Day 5

Casting Your Cares

1 Peter 5:6-8

If there is one great lie I believe Satan tempts us with it is this: God doesn’t care for you. Especially when we enter seasons of great struggle and difficulty, it’s far too easy to believe that lie and doubt God’s love and care for us.

There is also a temptation to lay our burdens down elsewhere- on a person, filling that void with a possession or addiction, succumbing to the lusts of our flesh or whatever idols we struggle with. But Truth tells us to throw our heavy loads and struggles onto the Lord for God to take care of. When we cast them upon him, He promises to sustain us.

Our lives are to be marked by being sober and vigilant so we can recognize the Enemy when we see him as he seeks to destroy all oneness with God. All of this requires humility on our part to recognize that God is God. He is good. He cares deeply for us. He’s intimately involved in all that we do. And he can be trusted no matter how great the storms of life beat against us.

Know the Enemy’s schemes. Submit to God. Embrace his love for you.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:6-8

Coming up to breathe

It’s definitely been an eventful past few weeks celebrating Easter, dealing with morning sickness, major fatigue, spending time with family, and working out some details with my husband’s school schedule and my work schedule. I have to admit that we’ve had some tough days like never before. The weight has been hard to carry and I just haven’t had it in me to blog, socialize, much less read email, cook, or clean. Yep, it’s that bad. And the main problem is that I haven’t been in the Word for spiritual renewal.

But, I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and my first trimester will be over soon. That’s not to say I won’t be sick after it, but I am praying for renewed strength. I am praying for change.

In a sense, I am thankful for the times I feel like I’m in the fire struggling. For the times I sense God’s discipline in my life. He loves me and is making me the woman he’s called me to be. I pray that I will be more like him in this season of struggle and in the areas he’s refining me in.

I’m curious to know where you’re at right now. What season are you in?

Switch to desktop version