On the one hand, we like to talk about the simple pleasures of Christmas. Of gathering with friends and sharing meals and being warm by the fire. We dream of a white Christmas and being home for the holidays and chestnuts roasting on an open fire. We sing along with our favorite Christmas songs.
On the other hand, we also focus a lot of time and attention on getting and giving the best Christmas gifts. Magazines feature articles about the best Christmas gift ideas. Children make lengthy Christmas lists and check them twice. Christmas shopping means wading through crowded shopping malls, desperately trying to find that perfect gift. We’re constantly assaulted by advertisements trying to convince us that the latest and greatest gadget will make us happy.
The end result of these two strong desires is that many people feel tremendously unsatisfied by Christmas. They feel let down. All the things that they thought would make them happy didn’t ultimately fulfill them. Maybe there was strife during their family gatherings. Maybe they were alone at Christmas. Maybe they didn’t get all the gifts they wanted. Maybe they got everything they wanted and still found themselves unhappy.
Instead of experiencing Christmas joy, they get the Christmas blues. Instead of feeling merry and bright, Christmas feels dark and bleak. All the Christmas promises made by the songs and advertisements ring hollow.
The glorious good news is that God wants us to have joy. He wants us to have deep satisfaction. He wants us to be filled with gladness and rejoicing.
And we don’t have to go on a quest to find it. We don’t have to climb a snowy mountain peak or find a sacred grail or travel to a far off land. Christmas is the story of God bringing joy to us. God sent Jesus into the world so that we could have true, abundant life.
In John 10:10, Jesus said to His disciples, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Abundant life. Isn’t that what you want? You can have it through Jesus!
Jesus lived a beautiful, perfect, sinless life, and He died on the cross for our sins. When we believe in Christ, God takes all our sins away and He gives us the perfect righteousness of Jesus.
Second Corinthians 5:21 describes it like this, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Because we are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ, sin no longer separates us from God. We are brought near to God, adopted by Him, and loved by Him. We can call God “Father”.
Ephesians 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
The glory of Christmas is that even though we couldn’t get to God, God drew near to us. God became a man, humble and lowly, a helpless baby. He took on flesh. He became like us so that He could heal the breach that divided us.
Jesus has brought us back into fellowship with God, and in God we can find joy and satisfaction. God is the one who can satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. He is the one who gives us abundant, overflowing life.
In Psalm 4:7, David says, “You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.”
It’s true that many things on this earth can give us joy. When the people of Israel had a bountiful grain and grape harvest, it gave them great joy. They celebrated and rejoiced. They had feasts. But David knew the glorious truth that God gives even more joy. God gives more joy than a great harvest, a new job, a big house, a full bank account, or the latest gadget.
In Psalm 84:10, we read, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.”
One day spent in the presence of the Lord is better than a thousand days spent anywhere else. Think of all the beautiful places you could spend time at. On a sun-soaked island in the Caribbean. In a cozy chalet in the mountains. Hiking the Grand Canyon. Sipping a coffee in a Paris cafe. Knowing the Lord and being in His presence brings more joy and gladness than all these things combined.
In John 6:35, Jesus says, “I am the Bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
Have you ever been incredibly hungry? When you’re starving hungry, there’s nothing more satisfying than a good meal. It tastes so incredibly good and leaves you feeling so very satisfied. Jesus is the One who satisfies the longings of our hearts. He is bread and water to the hungry and parched soul.
In his book Desiring God, John Piper writes:
We should never try to deny or resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse. Instead, we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction. The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God.
God wants you to be happy in Him. He wants to give you overflowing joy. He wants to satisfy you to your heart’s content.
That’s why He sent Jesus to the earth. When the angel told the shepherds that Jesus had been born, he said, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).
Why is the birth of Jesus good news of great joy for all the people? Because Jesus is the satisfying life. He came so that we could stop desperately searching for happiness in all the wrong places and find our joy in God Himself.
During the Christmas season, it’s especially easy to become overly focused on the trappings of Christmas. To try to find our joy in something other than Jesus, whether that’s gifts or gatherings or decorations or family.
Don’t misunderstand — none of these things is inherently wrong. In fact, they’re blessings from God. But they can’t be our ultimate source of joy and gladness. Nothing can replace the Lord. If we look to these things to truly satisfy us, we’ll always end up feeling disappointed. We’ll end up feeling jaded and cynical, frustrated that we can’t seem to find satisfaction.
Let’s seek the Lord through His word and prayer and fellowship with others. Let’s ask Him to satisfy our hearts in the way that only He can.
If you’re lacking joy, ask Jesus to give it to you. Pray along with David, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit” (Psalm 51:12).
He came so that we could have abundant life and He wants you to experience that abundant life. Don’t let the Christmas blues overwhelm you. Run to Jesus and be filled afresh with the joy of your salvation.
Rooted in Pastor Adrian Rogers' book A Family Christmas Treasury, this Christmas Experience includes a collection of inspiring content, activities to bring your family together, and 31 daily devotions for each day of December. Feel free to pick and choose the days and activities that fit your schedule.
Christmas also presents us with a unique opportunity to share Jesus with others. For many who don’t know Christ, Christmas is an unhappy season. It reminds them of the things that are broken in their lives. Of relationships that are fractured. Of illness that won’t go away. Of hardship and heartache and loneliness and brokenness.
They may try to fill the void, but it never works. Material things can’t fill the God-shaped hole in people’s hearts. No matter how many toys they buy, no matter how many hours they work, no matter how many parties they attend, they won’t be able to find the happiness they’re looking for.
This Christmas, let’s look for opportunities to share the gift of Jesus with others. As we gather with family, friends, and coworkers, let’s ask God to open doors to share the love of Christ. People are hurting and broken. They desperately need Jesus. We have been given the greatest gift of all and we’re called to share it with others.
In the classic children’s book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Land of Narnia is under a spell cast by the White Witch. The spell ensures that it’s always winter, yet never Christmas.
When Aslan the Lion (who represents Jesus) comes to Narnia, he breaks the spell, bringing Christmas and then spring to Narnia.
Jesus has come into our lives, bringing Christmas and spring. Yet many still walk around in winter, never truly experiencing the abundant life that Jesus gives.
This Christmas, let’s tell people about Jesus, The Satisfying Life.
Listen to the Experience Christmas playlist as you and your family take part in these activities.
You can also purchase the Experience Christmas Worship Collection as a digital download or CD to listen offline.