“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
At least, that’s what I have posted on the letterboard in my living room. In my opinion, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. I’m one of those “full-send on Christmas starting November 1st” people. And I have zero shame about it.
“With the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you, ‘Be of good cheer.’”
After a year like 2020, I think we can all agree the world needs some extra holiday magic. I’m leaning into every glitter-filled, messy-cookie-decorating, classic-albums-on-repeat, kids’-bedtimes-out-the-window moment of this December. But, if I’m being candid, my heart doesn’t remain totally engaged with the present. There’s a heaviness hovering around the edges, waiting on just one more crack to break in and set up camp.
“There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and caroling out in the snow…”
Some of it is typical holiday busyness, right? Every year, we’re faced with the challenge to steward the season well. The anxiety of fitting in “all the things” while still actually enjoying them can sometimes leave me feeling like an event planner running 15 minutes behind schedule instead of a wife, mom, sister, daughter, and friend who just wants to REST. My soul longs to sit in the presence of Jesus and cultivate a meaningful season of celebrating Advent with my family…but my flesh is still tempted to post the perfect photo of matching jammies on Instagram. This unfortunate tension is more real than most of us probably care to admit.
“There’ll be much mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near.”
But what if they’re not? What if there’s no “mistletoeing” this year…and it’s not just because there’s a mask in the way? What if illness or death or loss of a relationship or that thing that wasn’t supposed to happen but did prevents loved ones from being near this season? And as you anticipate the reality of how things are going to look different, your heart is gloomy, not glowing.
As believers, how do we pivot? How do we accept stressful, painful, or simply annoying earthly circumstances and still turn our eyes, hands, and hearts to receive the Light of the world—Jesus? When things aren’t as they should be, how can we lean into the truth that our long-expected King has come to dwell with us and set us free? While we grieve, how can we still sing, “Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!”?
Deep breath, friend. Here it is:
Resting in God’s goodness is the gateway to contentment.
And remembering God’s goodness is the antidote to discontentment.
His goodness is our hope because His character never changes.
When the world falls apart because of a pandemic, the country falls apart because of political unrest, or our personal lives fall apart for a bazillion other possible reasons…
He. Does. Remain.
So first, we have to rest in the truth that He is good. We can be content with this fact, for it is decided. His goodness is not determined by our feelings, but by His faithfulness.
Then we have to remember that His goodness covers every discontented place of our hearts. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we can learn “the secret of being content” in any and all circumstances, as Paul did (Philippians 4:12-13, CSB).
And we can know that it is “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Because He came.
He’s here with us now—Immanuel.
And He’s coming again.
What precious, glorious, boundless hope that is!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Setterlind: Ashley Setterlind is a pastor’s wife, mama of two, and worship leader at LibertyLive.Church in Hampton Roads, VA. She is passionate about encouraging other moms to glorify God in their mundane moments by being deeply rooted in Christ. To learn more about her, visit @ashleysetterlind on Instagram or download her free ebook at www.ashleysetterlind.com.