This question is one of permission and goes deeper than asking, “Can I be happy this Christmas when others are not?” Yes, you can be happy – just be indifferent to the plight of the hurting. But May you? May I be happy – is it appropriate to enjoy Christmas when others are grieving? It feels insensitive and thoughtless. I feel guilt. May I sing and be happy this Christmas and even pursue my joy in the Lord while others will shed many tears? Tenderly, hopefully, yes.
Here’s How, in no particular order of importance:
1. I will believe that we can both sorrow, yet rejoice in many truthful things at the same time. 2 Cor. 6:10
2. I will believe that I am finite with limited knowledge of everything – there is nothing that is fully understood by mere mortals. I am not God. Ecc. 6:12; Job 42:1-6;1 Cor. 13:12
3. I will believe that my own days are numbered so that my heart will not act like a fool, thinking that this life is long, luxurious, and everlasting. Psalm 90:9-15
4. I will believe that I don’t go anywhere, for any reason, for any length of time unless it is the Lord’s sovereign will that has planned it all. James 4:13-16
5. I will believe that the reason that I am alive is because God is merciful, not because I’m better than those who are dead. Luke 13:1-5
6. I will believe that my happiness is not rooted in my circumstances of life but in the right standing that I have with Christ and the long-range purpose of suffering. 2 Cor. 12:7-10
7. I will believe that Jesus loves the little children. Luke 18:15-17. And though young children are taken away by evil men and women, I also will believe that if my life experience and knowledge does not match-up with how Jesus is implenting his present phase of his kingdom on earth, Jesus is coming back with Swift Justice. Ecc. 3:16-18; Matthew 11:2-3; Luke 19:27
8. I will believe that God is pleased when his children enjoy his good gifts, even in the midst of real sorrow.Luke 15:23
9. I will believe that my despair will not aid the hopeless – I will hope in God so that others may also. Psalm 42:1-5
10. I will believe that if God can send out his gospel truth in 10,000 new ways through the murder of 5 missionaries in Ecuador in 1956, then he can do the impossible with Newtown, CT.
11. I will believe that God does not owe mankind any protection from ourselves since we already told him to leave us alone. Genesis 2:17, 3:6-7; Judges 17:6
12. I will believe that at no time does God say, “go away from me, all you who are burdened down,” but still calls everyone, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened down.” Matt. 11:28-30
13. I will evaluate my motive and reason to be joyful this Christmas: Do I believe that I deserve to be happy or do I believe that peace and joy is an angelic announcement of grace upon my Christmas? Luke 2:14; Romans 15:13
14. I will believe that peace and joy are the most appropriate emotions in the presence of a holy and merciful God who sent his son into this evil world. John 14:27, 15:11
15. I will believe that if Jesus could have future-oriented joy in a season of horrific evil, then I can too. Hebrews 12:1-2; Romans 8:18-23
16. I will believe that my innate desire for joy is given by a loving God who wants me to pursue the oject of Joy – Him. Psalm 43:4
17. I will open my presents with humility and gladness – knowing that all good gifts come from God (Ecc. 9:7-9; James 1:17).
18. If I begin to feel guilt for being happy while others are not, I will not drown this feeling with food, music, and distraction, rather, I will remember that mis-placed guilt and shame is a tool of the devil to accuse the saints that we are unfit and undeserving of joy – which is true – but the devil’s intention is to humiliate and steal joy, while God’s intention is to increase our joy precisely because it is a gift. I will remember to attack the devil’s lies with God’s truth. Romans 8:33
19. If the Lord wills, I will wake up on Christmas morning and joyfully give thanks for his blessings.1 Thess. 5:18
20. Finally, I will remember that Jesus Christ knows our need, our weakness is no stranger. Behold your King – before him lowly bend. Christ is the Lord! Phil. 2:7-11; Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:14-16
Merry Christmas – see you next year!