Why Christmas Leaves Us Longing

Whether it’s our own home, a childhood home, or the welcoming home of friends, the holidays are typically spent in homes. These can be lovely homes, decorated to the max, ushering in the holiday season. They can be filled with great joys and holiday spirit, as well as the smell of roasts and cinnamon spice in the air. But we know that homes may also be filled with loneliness and grief, sorrows and conflict. And, at the end of the day, the homes empty, the decorations come down, the gifts get stored and we can be left feeling a bit empty as a result. The holidays, whether filled with joy or difficulty, have an ending and often leave us longing for more.

I believe part of that longing and emptiness is because we know that the wonder of the holidays is only a small glimpse, a foretaste of our forever homes and our forever celebration. I think we can be left feeling empty because we have eternity planted on our hearts (Eccl. 3:11). We know that there’s something better. Something lasting. This acknowledgment of the greater gift shouldn’t, however, keep us from celebrating during the holidays. On the contrary, our understanding that this is not our home motivates us to celebrate.

As we anticipate the coming of Immanuel this holiday season, let us also remember that Jesus will come again. Christmas morning is not the end of the story. We know that Easter is coming and, after Easter, we know that our Savior is returning for His Bride! The day after Christmas doesn’t have to be a day of despondent longing—it can be a day of quiet waiting. Our hearts can be at peace because we know that God is making all things new.

That longing you may feel is evidence of a better and true citizenship; we are all eagerly waiting until the day of our Savior’s return. The Apostle Paul wrote of this longing as he encouraged the Philippian church to imitate those walking in the faith: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil. 3:20). When our eyes are fixed on eternity, we can run the race with endurance. We know that he will transform us into His likeness. We know that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Our hope, our only hope, is to be found in Him. “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb. 9:27-28). Oh, what good news. Jesus has made a way and it started in a manger. He died in our place and will return to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

We know that the holidays aren’t all there is. So, as you celebrate this season, rejoice knowing that when the excitement of the holidays dies away, the forever celebration awaits you. And if you are discouraged this season, know that your longing will one day be fulfilled as you are consummated to your Savior. Forever—this is forever.

Further Thoughts for Your Reflection:

1. How do you typically feel leading up to Christmas? What about afterward? How does the reality of Jesus’ return impact those feelings?
2. Think of someone – family member, friend, neighbor – who you know is left longing deeply because of the holiday season. Encourage them with words or a note about the truth of our eternal home. Or maybe use the opportunity to share the gospel if they don’t know Christ.
3. Jesus came to earth out of his deep love to pursue us. Who’s in your life that you could pursue out of love? What could you do to make sure they know of your love for them?
4. Spend some time writing out what it means to have your true citizenship in Heaven. Then thank the Father for this remarkable gift through Christ.


This content originally published here. Used by permission. 

Photo of Trillia J. Newbell

Trillia J. Newbell

Trillia J. Newbell is the author of the kids’ book God’s Very Good Idea, as well as Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts (2016), Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves (2015) and United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity (2014). She currently is the Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. 

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