This Christmas may be full of stress, sadness and anxiety. Here's how to survive it (and even find joy)

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Can you believe Christmas Eve is just around the corner?

Kids everywhere are saying, “It’s finally here!” Many adults are likely saying, “Whew! It’s almost over!” In many ways, how you view Christmas determines if you are young or old. Many young children, for example, believe in the wonder of Santa Claus. As you grow a little bit older, you understand a thing or two and guess what happens next? Once you’re an adult, you become Santa Claus!

It’s extremely easy to get caught up in the hype – and pressure – of the holiday season. You may find yourself completely stressed out, or maybe even a little bit depressed. Meanwhile, you’re forced to listen to the Christmas song playing at the mall: “Love and Joy come to you, and a Merry Christmas too…”

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For you, this Christmas may not be full of love and joy at all. One recent article pointed out, “While the holidays can be filled with joy, the season can be filled with anxiety and stress. Studies show depression, anxiety, stress and loneliness increase during the holidays. These issues are often related to grieving and financial stressors.”

So, how can you have joy this Christmas no matter what life throws at you?

To answer that, we have to go way on back to the first Christmas in the little town of Bethlehem. God sent mighty angels to announce the birth of Jesus, to shepherds that were keeping watch over their flocks at night. The angel announced, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10).

Maybe you are wondering where that “great joy” is in your Christmas celebration right now. That can be a really difficult place to be, and to find out the answer to that question, you’ll have to read what the angels say next: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a savior, who is Christ the Lord!” Sometimes we think, “The joy is coming as soon as I finish my Christmas shopping!” Or “I’ll have that happiness of Christmas when I get my next paycheck!” Maybe you’re thinking, “When this hardship I am going through ends, then maybe I can find joy again.”

You will never, ever find the joy of Christmas under a tree. It is only found in Christ himself. You don’t need Christmas presents to find love and joy – you just need His Christmas presence. In other words, you need God in your life. That is really the essential message of this season.

Let the words of the Wise Men sink in: “We have come to worship!” Notice, they didn’t say, “Let it snow!” or “Shop ‘til you drop!” They were simply there to worship.

You see, commercial Christmas cannot deliver on its promises. It cannot bring you the magic, delight, or hope that it promises. As C.S Lewis once wrote: “It is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about faith. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” It’s not Christmas that will give you joy, but Jesus Christ Himself.

The Bible says, “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him” (Eph.3:17).

Trust in Jesus this holiday season.

Don’t focus on the hype and pressure all around you, but instead stop and reflect on the fact that God loved us so much, He sent His only begotten Son to be born in a manger and ultimately die on the cross to pay the price for all of our sins. And because of this, He offers us all the ultimate Christmas gift: the gift of eternal life. And guess what? No assembly or batteries required either!

If we will turn from trying to do this holiday season in our own way without Him, and ask God to forgive us and open this wondrous gift, I promise you this can be the most joyful, peaceful, merriest Christmas ever.

As the old Christmas hymn says, “Let every heart prepare him room.”