How to Have More Joy this Christmas

Have you ever felt like you didn’t want to celebrate Christmas? Maybe this year has been extra difficult for you, and you feel like there’s nothing to celebrate. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, and Christmas just doesn’t feel the same. Maybe because of inflation, you’re not able to afford traveling to see the people you love. Sometimes this season just doesn’t feel very joyful, and you might be wondering how to have more joy this Christmas.

Even in the midst of challenging and difficult circumstances, remembering the coming of Jesus at Christmas can be a source of joy. It reminds us of the joy that knowing Jesus brings to our lives and the hope that we have in Him. The song Joy to the World is one of my favorite Christmas carols. Just remembering that Jesus has come into the world and fundamentally altered its reality always refills my soul with joy, no matter what I may be facing. Here are a few thoughts inspired by Joy to the World on how we can find joy in the coming of Christ this Christmas season.

Make room for Jesus

Joy to the world!
The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing

The holiday season is so full of activities, parties, shopping, and more. It can be exhausting trying to keep up with everything that needs to be done. Christmas can feel like an extension of an already busy and exhausting life, with extra pressure and more opportunities to disappoint people. Joy can be hard to recognize among the flashy trappings of a commercialized and hectic Christmas season.

As cliché as it sounds, Christmas truly isn’t about the presents, the lights, the parties, or the activities. It’s about making room for Christ in our hearts and lives, in this season and every day. If you struggle with making room for Jesus in this holiday season, set an intention to spend five minutes daily in silence with the Lord. There are no to-do lists in His presence, no one to impress or disappoint, no happy face that needs to be put on—it’s just Jesus. Take time to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus” and receive the gift of His presence. The power of pausing and taking time to be with Jesus provides constant refreshment and grounding in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparation.

Join in worship with all creation

Joy to the earth!
The Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy

I love the imagery in this carol. Can you imagine what it sounds like when fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains, repeat a joyful refrain to their Creator? Romans 8:19-22 tells us that all creation has been subject to decay and frustration in this sin-sick world, and that it eagerly waits for the children of God to be revealed. We don’t think much about inanimate objects like trees and rocks expressing emotion, like frustration or joy, but that’s exactly what the Scriptures and this song teach us.

Even when we don’t feel like worshipping, creation is inviting us to join in their worship. Even in this season of wintry death, when all creation sleeps to wake again in spring, creation sings for joy at the coming of the Lord. Sometimes when I’m outside taking a walk, I think about what it looks like for a tree to worship. A tree stays in one place for its whole life, deeply rooted with branches outstretched and uplifted in praise. It worships God in a fruit-bearing season, and it still worships God when it loses its leaves in a winter season. Can I worship God like this tree in every season of my life? Can I join in its chorus of worship to my Creator, who is coming to redeem all things? As you put up your Christmas tree this year (whether real or fake), take a minute to join in worship with creation at the coming of Jesus.

Envision the restoration of all things

No more let sins and sorrow grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found
Far as, far as, the curse is found

Maybe you are feeling the effects of sin’s curse in a particularly heavy way this season. The loss, grief, fear, and anxiety that the last few years of the pandemic and its aftermath have caused can feel overwhelming at times. This hymn reminds us that the blessings of Christ extend as far as the curse is found. Christ’s first coming transformed our reality in a significant way, but we are still waiting for His second coming when He will fully restore all things. We live in a constant tension where we experience loss, fear, and doubt, while at the same time trusting and believing that Christ will make all things new. To envision this renewed reality is to experience joy and grief simultaneously. Even in suffering and trial, we can be confident that Christ’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. There is glory even in our suffering because it leads to hope in the restoration of all things.

Remember Jesus reigns

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders, of His love!

There is nothing that gives me more joy than knowing that Jesus rules the world. I wouldn’t be able to get up in the morning and face the day if I didn’t have full confidence in the sovereignty and power of Christ and His kingdom on earth. I don’t have to fear my future, my family’s future, or the future of the world. I know that Jesus reigns with truth and grace, and that his reign of love extends to every nation and every heart.

Remembering that Jesus is King of the world shifts our perspective from what is going on around us to the eternal realities of the kingdom of God. It is not a denial of the reality of pain, suffering, and grief in the world, but it is a declaration that the effects of sin are not permanent and do not have the final word. We can grasp onto the realities of heaven as a lifeline of hope, joy, and peace in the middle of a chaotic world.

This Christmas, whether you are feeling stressed by the length of your to-do list, lonely from the absence of a loved one no longer here, or fearful for the new year, take a moment to embrace joy by contemplating the words of this carol. Joy is not something that needs to be worked up like a happy feeling; it is a fruit of the Spirit that is produced from His work in you. May you experience the joy of heaven this Christmas season through the loving presence of Jesus.

Megan Grondin
Megan Grondinhttps://www.tku.edu
Megan Grondin is the Registrar and Director of Academic Services at The King's University. She earned her master's degree in theology at Continental Theological Seminary in Belgium.