rebelling against low expectations

When Christmas Isn’t Merry


December is here, and with it, an enormous amount of rich foods and idealistic Instagram posts.

Christmas means icicle lights and Santa hats. Cute sweaters, gingerbread ice cream, and cozy evenings watching Elf.

But for me, the holidays bring a harsh reality: I don’t live in that wonderland.

The struggle is real this winter. And whether it’s family issues, learning how to live without someone, or depression, we’re left with pain we don’t know what to do with. And for those of us who are suffering, the sappy-sweet ideal of Christmas only makes our trials more obvious. There is a festive sort of pressure to look happy — and sometimes, that’s all it takes to break us.

Because, let’s be real, some of us are not happy. Some of us face painful realities that feel like the exact opposite of “peace on earth”. There are mornings when we don’t know how we’ll make it through the day, nights when we barely make it to sunrise. In a world cursed by sin, pain is a constant.

And God has not promised to take away our pain. (Not yet anyway.)

But he entered our world of pain.

He took on flesh. He came into a world of family struggles and betrayal. He felt the tension of broken relationships, even when he had done nothing wrong.

He knew physical agony. He had skin that bled and tore and radiated pain. He cried so hard that the capillaries in his face burst and made him sweat blood.

Jesus knows what it is to hurt.

And he knows our pain, in every heart-wrenching detail. He sees it and He cares.

But, he’s still causing it. So, don’t you think he has a reason? We know his love because he came. So if he’s still giving us trials, don’t you think the end-goal is going to be worth it? He has to be doing something.

Somehow, this — yeah, this — is good for us. He has promised us that.

Somehow, someday, these tears will bring us joy. And we will be a thousand times happier for having cried.

He may not remove our struggles as quickly as we would like, but He has promised to wipe away our tears (Revelation 7:17). One day suffering will be no more (Revelation 21:4). And in the meantime, its working for our good (Romans 8:28).

“So we do not lose heart… For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison [.]” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

We don’t understand it yet, but these trials are working for us. They feel heavy and long right now, but the reward will make it seem like nothing. This will be worth it.

So keep going.

Hold on to these promises. Recite them on your way to that ugly sweater party, write them on your arm. Find good music — Christmas-y or not — and let your headphones pump life and truth back into your mind. Look for songs that speak to these promises.

Read the psalms. Pray through them and let their poetry give you words for your pain.

As sufferers, we may not be able to take the thought of the holidays as a whole. So don’t. Focus on the present. God will give you grace to drive to the store, just like He’s giving me strength to write this article. You may not get everything done, but by grace, you can do this next thing.

To be honest, this probably won’t be the happiest Christmas. But that’s okay. Even if the tears keep coming, God is with us. He meets us in our weakness, and maybe, that’s the whole point of this pain.

So don’t be afraid to cry. You’re tears will give you more of God.

Hold on to hope, dear, and go eat some pie.

“Let living water satisfy
The thirsty without price.
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
All glory be to Christ.”

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About the author

Faye C'Naim

(pronounced "fake-name") is someone who, having first donned her alias as a security measure, has grown rather attached to the old thing and plans to keep it. She hopes her writing helps and encourages you.


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  • I’ve found it. My favourite post on this website. The one that has understood and encouraged me the most. I don’t have the words to say thank you, but someday I will find you in heaven, and I’ll tell you what I can’t say through a hug.

  • Faye, I love this. The empathy, honesty, and simplicity makes it a beautiful encouragement. I hope whoever is hurting this Christmas will find their way to this article 🙂

  • Thank you for this very real and moving article. It is very helpful to so many. I propose one observation to the thinking that God causes the pain and struggles. He is Love and he did cause Adam to sin. But because Adam broke fellowship and gave his dominion to Satan, we were all born into sin. Sin causes pain and suffering, sinful people cause pain and suffering, a sin filled word causes pain and soffering. But our loving Abba doesn’t cause our suffering and pain. He loves us so much and our pain, hurts him. He wants us to find cimfort as you say on Him and his word. Again thank you for your article!

    • Hey Faith!

      Since God is good, he doesn’t cause sin. (Though he does have complete control over it). But he does cause our trials. In Genisis 3 God sets in motion the curses of sin on the world in general. And for believers, there is pain that helps us grow and trust God. Of course he loves us, but thats actually why he gives us trials. (Romans 5 talks pretty in depth about the purpose of pain for the believer and there are other passages like this). Pain is a tool He uses for His glory and our good. So, as believers,we have hope in suffering specifically because it comes from God.

      Thank you for saying such nice things about my article. I hope it/this can helps you and whoever else reads it. Thanks!

    • I feel you. There’s no way I would have had the emotional energy to write last year. I’m so sorry things are hard, but thank you for commenting

  • Thank you for these words of truth. This encourages me, in a time I’m missing someone I just lost, and preparing to lose someone else. God’s grace goes beyond my understanding, and His peace is the only salve for sin’s sorrows. Have a blessed Christmas!

    • Ruth, I’m so sorry to hear that. I’ve been through something similar and there really aren’t words for that kind of thing. I’m so, so sorry. I hope Christ can be your peace right now.

  • I (sadly) haven’t read an article on the Reb in months, but this caught my eye because the title resonated a lot with me, so I figured ‘hey why not?’ And I’m glad I checked it out. Life has gotten insane but this means a lot to me, so thanks. <33

By Faye C'Naim
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →