Christmas is often considered a time of peace, joy, and hope, but for many of us, it does not feel that way. With all the cooking, cleaning, planning, gift purchasing, traveling, and hosting, the Christmas season often becomes demanding and can leave us feeling weary on what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year. But underneath all the demands of the season remains the truth that gives meaning to the hustle and bustle: God gave us Himself, freely, without demanding anything in return.
Weariness will look different for everyone during this season. Some of the pressures and tasks we take upon ourselves around this time might be self-imposed. I know I am tempted to work toward having a spotless and perfectly decorated house—while also having a toddler in my house. My weariness also comes from agreeing to attend every single event, party, and concert I am invited to. I have a friend whose weariness comes from the promise she makes to bake everyone’s favorite flavor of pie for her family Christmas.
However, there are also those things that cause weariness that are out of our control—things like the financial strain of buying gifts or the discomfort of seeing certain family members, coordinating travel plans, or hosting relatives. All these things and more demand our time, resources, and attention, and there is no way around giving of ourselves to meet those demands. But as we empty ourselves out for our family and loved ones during the Christmas season we have the opportunity to reflect on the act of self-emptying that is at the heart of Christmas.
We often talk about Jesus’s free gift of grace around Good Friday and Easter. It is true that the greatest act of sacrificial love was displayed on the cross when Jesus took on our sins and died in our place, but this was not His only sacrifice. In order to take on human sin, He first had to take on human flesh.
Paul writes in Philippians that even though He was God Himself—all powerful, all knowing, Creator and King—Jesus Christ let go of this status and emptied Himself, becoming a servant to all by taking on human flesh. Only then was He able to die on our behalf and pay the price for our sins (Philippians 2:6–8). What an amazing mystery this is! Somehow, Jesus, while maintaining His Godhood, fully humbled Himself and became a lowly mortal human just like us.
This amazing mystery is the reason we celebrate Christmas, so what better way is there to orient our attention when we are feeling weary as a result of our human weakness and obligations? The love that God has for us is offered freely through the gift of His Son (John 3:16, 1 John 4:9). As we feel the pressure to meet the many demands of this season, let us not lose sight of the free gift we have received through the act of Jesus being born as a human baby over 2,000 years ago. It is in this truth that we can rest and truly find the peace, joy, and hope that Christmas promises.
Additional Resources to Encourage You in Seasons of Weariness: