Notice: All forms on this website are temporarily down for maintenance. You will not be able to complete a form to request information or a resource. We apologize for any inconvenience and will reactivate the forms as soon as possible.

Hopes, Fears and Longing at Christmas


“Baby, all I want for

Christmas is you.” —Mariah Carey

I was in my teens when I

begged my mom to buy me the now played out Mariah Carey Christmas CD. She

consented to the purchase so long as she could take a Sharpie to any less than

modest album artwork. With that agreement made, I was free to wail along to

Mariah’s lovesick Christmas carols?at the push of a button.

Every year I’d sigh, “She

just gets me. All I want for Christmas is….” you can finish the stanza, I’m

sure. I hoped fervently that next year the songs would no longer ring true, and

I’d have someone special to share the most romantic time of the year with.

I don’t know when and

how Christmas became the most romantic time of the year, but a cursory glance

at the channel guide on TV makes it clear that I wasn’t alone in missing my

certain someone most at Christmastime. 

Thankfully, I have

outgrown teen angst. Even so, Christmas marks the passage of time. Even with my

Mariah Carey days behind me, I can’t help but wonder if maybe next year I’ll have

someone beside me to enjoy my wonderful, loud, loving family

with, and if maybe my grandparents will hold on to life long enough to hold one

of my babies, too.

Or maybe not.

I find grace and fuel

for patience in this season of unknown by recognizing that my unfulfilled

longings are not in vain, nor are they more hurtful than those of others. Once

I am married I will trade these longings for another. Things on this side of

eternity have yet to be made right, and so our longings follow us.

“Long lay the world in

sin and error pining ‘til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” —O, Holy


We will each be touched

to varying degrees by the brokenness unleashed by the Fall. There are no

loopholes in this. All of my married friends suffer. All of my single friends

suffer. Childless friends suffer, and friends with children suffer. This isn’t

cause for gloom. For each unique point of suffering there is also a correlating

joy, but as my friend who has a beautiful marriage and a precious daughter

simply put it, “It’s still life.”

That said, as singles longing

to enter the one relationship tasked with mirroring Christ’s great love for the

church, Christmas can be a time of subtle suffering not experienced by others.

Christmas celebrations revolve around family and children. Babies and couples

grace Christmas cards.?Christmas songs croon about keeping warm with lovers.

Christmas cheer is not entirely withheld from us, but these particulars tend to

fan the flames of longing more sharply.

As much as I might

desire to participate in those sweet aspects of the season, an honest look

reminds me they have little to do with Christ’s birth.

You see, Advent is all

about longing. It’s about waiting. It’s about hopes and fears.

“The hopes and fears of

all the years are met in you tonight…” —O Little Town of Bethlehem

In a recent conversation

with Dr. Del Tacket, he reminded us about the silence between Malachi and

Matthew. The wondrous prophecies of the Messiah were proclaimed and then were

followed by centuries of silence. Centuries of waiting … and waiting … and

waiting … until at last He appeared, and history was never the same.

As my younger brother

once said, “The incarnation is just the biggest deal.” It really is. We tend to

make Christmas all about Easter, and of course they are intrinsically woven together.

But the incarnation is the biggest deal because God became man not only to

ransom us from the curse of sin, but also to know us. To embody the God who

sees (Genesis 16:13); to be the friend who weeps

alongside us (John 11: 33-35); to be misunderstood,

betrayed, alone, reviled for us. He came as a vulnerable infant so that we

might have a high priest who sympathizes with our weakness, temptation,

suffering at every point yet without succumbing to sin (Hebrews 4:15). How humbling. How hope giving! 

If Advent is about

longing and feeling the brokenness of life acutely, Christmas is about the

Savior who alone satisfies that longing and heals that brokenness. It’s a time

to allow the longings to propel us to Christ and bask in the enough and

more-than enough nature of God’s love.

“O tidings of comfort

and joy…” —God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

“I have told you these

things, so that in me you might have peace. In this world you will have

trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In Jesus’

words to His beloved disciples He tells them plainly: This world is going to

disappoint you, but this isn’t the end of the story. I have conquered the pain

and suffering that this world will bring your way. You can find peace in Me.

This isn’t trite positivity, friends. If it feels this way, I can only pray

that you will encounter anew the life giving power of God’s presence and the

tangible force of His comfort and joy.

“Jesu, Joy of Man’s

Desiring” —Johan Sebastian Bach

My other favorite

Christmas CD in my teens was Amy Grant’s Home for Christmas album. Among

many familiar favorites, it contained the classical piece “Jesu, Joy of Man’s

Desiring” by Bach. Its Celtic melody would set my feet dancing. It embodied

joyful celebration.

The German verse translated reveals its author has

encountered heartbreak, “Jesus remains my joy, my heart’s comfort and essence,

Jesus resists all suffering, He is my life’s strength, my eye’s desire and sun,

my soul’s love and joy; so will I not leave Jesus.” The title aptly

captures the depth of this truth. Jesus is the joy of man’s desiring; the joy

in our longings. Even when earthly hopes are satisfied, it is He who is truly, “our

soul’s love and joy.”

Wherever you’re at this Christmas, allow

your longings to testify to your need for a Savior and join the Psalmist in

remembering the One who remembers you, “O, Lord all of my longing is before

You; And my sighing is not hidden from you” (Psalm 38:9). Your sighs are not

hidden from Him. He came near. He did not stay silent. He took on flesh to be

your Immanuel. This is joyous news. This is enough cause to celebrate with

abandon this holiday. 

Share This Post:

About the Author

Related Content