Thirty-seven years ago, I held my firstborn son in my arms by the light of our Charlie Brown Christmas tree and wondered what our lives would be like in the days ahead. Little did I know that some of our most challenging seasons would overlap with the Christmas holiday.

I love Christmastime. The songs, the sights, the scents. All of it. I love how people are more open to conversations about Jesus. I love children’s giggles when they see a present with their name on it. They remind me of how God wants us to respond when we see all the ways He’s been specifically good to us. I love the planning and anticipation of gathering with those we love.

I think intentionality is good for us. We so easily slide into autopilot in our everyday lives. It’s beautiful to slip out of the ordinary and plan for the extraordinary.

Some say these are pagan practices, but I say only if you plan them that way. As someone whom Jesus has radically saved and transformed, I can’t think of a better holiday to honor His birth.

That He was born into poverty reminds me that He came for the least and the lowliest, of which I was one. That the skies opened up in splendor to announce His birth reminds us that the heavenly realm is more tangible and glorious than we can ever imagine. And that Jesus stepped away from His throne to provide a way home for us leaves me breathless and speechless.

Luke 2:8-14 (NLT)

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them.

They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said, ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’”

A commercialized Christmas is a stressful and costly Christmas. It sets an impossible standard for most and leaves many in despair over their lack.

When we walk through seasons of hardship, the true spirit of Christmas should be incredibly comforting to us. Jesus came to earth to set us free, to destroy the works of the enemy, and to bring redemption to every part of our story. What great and glorious news!

Commercial Christmases are all about pretense; the goal is to impress, not to bless. The perfect façade mocks the pain of those traveling the weary path of hardship. But think about the miracle of Christ’s arrival as you consider the lyrics of the classic song O Holy Night:

The thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks, a NEW and glorious morn
Fall on your knees, O, hear the angel voices
O night, divine
O night, when Christ was born

The true message of Christmas brings healing to the broken heart, strength to the weak, and hope to the weary.

Sometimes our Christmas seasons are so delightful we remember them forever. Other times, our seasons are so painful we remember them for all the wrong reasons. But no matter what, we know nothing is wasted in the Kingdom.

Jesus is our Prince of Peace; our God of all comfort; our source of everlasting, abundant joy. He doesn’t ask us to settle into our seasons of sorrow. He asks us to trust Him as we journey through them. He doesn’t ask us to accept our sadness. He asks us to trust Him to lead us into new seasons of gladness. He redeems and restores; He refreshes and renews.

What do you need from Jesus this season? Ask Him! Believe that He is good. And look for Him to intervene in your story in ways you never thought possible.

Jesus was born as a baby. But He’s returning as our King. Let earth receive her King!