Celebrating Christmas with a Broken Heart

by Shelby Turner

My family has attended the same Christmas Eve service at my grandparent’s small hometown Iowa church for as long as I can remember. Each year, we rush in the church doors, eager to get out of the bitter cold. Soft carols play while friendly faces greet one another with hugs and handshakes. The pews fill. Year after year, the same families sit in the same spots.

As time has have worn on, I’ve seen once newlyweds now with a row of children sitting beside them. I’ve watched big families dwindle down to just two parents as their children grew and moved away. I’ve witnessed somber-faced women with an empty seat next to them where their husbands once sat. I know hardly anyone in this crowd personally, but I’ve watched their stories unfold over the better part of two decades. My once-a-year encounter with them means I know almost nothing of the hardships they have truly faced. Unbeknownst to me, I’m sure many have faced cancer diagnoses, separation, miscarriage, depression, loneliness, and loss.

Yet, here they are. Dressed in their best, singing songs of joy, nodding as the pastor speaks of hope, and raising a lit candle as they proclaim the arrival of the Savior. In this crowd and every other Christmas church crowd around the world, there are undoubtedly many who are celebrating Christmas with a broken heart. 

Maybe you are entering the coming holiday festivities feeling broken yourself. Perhaps there is nothing merry, joyful, or hope-filled about this Christmas season for you. If this is you, today I’d love to gently remind you that brokenhearted people are the whole reason Jesus came. 

If all people had whole and healed hearts, there would have been no need for Jesus to leave the heavens and be born as a baby. But, sin has plagued the hearts of all people for all time. The sins we commit separate us from God and condemn us to death. The sins committed against us only worsen our condition and pain. But the story doesn’t end there because Jesus came. And Isaiah 61 tells us why Jesus came.

He came to bring good news to the poor.

He came to heal the brokenhearted.

He came to proclaim liberty to the captives.

He came to free the prisoners.

He came to comfort and provide for those who mourn.

He came to give beauty and splendor where there was once mourning and despair.

Christmas is a joyful season because it promises hope to those who feel joyless. It is a merry season because it promises merriness to those who feel downtrodden. Christmas is for the brokenhearted. Jesus is for the brokenhearted.

This doesn’t mean that all will be right in the world when we wake up on Christmas morning. It does mean that in Jesus, there is forgiveness for every sin we will commit past and present. And He will redeem the sins committed against us for our good and His glory. It means the Holy Spirit comforts us when we mourn. It means Jesus is compassionate and merciful toward those who are suffering because he, too, has experienced suffering and pain. And it means that as we celebrate the first arrival of Jesus, we can also look forward to His second arrival. When Jesus comes again, He will make all things new, and all those who are in Him will live with Him forever in perfect love, peace, and joy.

This is the good news of Christmas — heartbreak meets its end in Jesus. The pain felt today, won’t be felt forever. But, the hope Jesus offers today will remain forever.

Matthew 4:16 says, “The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.” Christmas is the dawn of the hope of Jesus. It marks His coming near to all those who need salvation. May every twinkling light, flickering candle, and hymn of hope remind you that light has dawned in your darkness. Your Savior came to heal your broken heart.

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