Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment;
his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:4-5
Despite the “Holiday Cheer,” this is not always a happy time of year. Sometimes the stress of unrealistic expectations frays nerves. Sometimes we feel stuck spending time with family or friends we don’t have much in common with. Sometimes we miss loved ones who are far away. Sometimes we feel the aching absence of those who have died. Sometimes we live with depression or anxiety that is completely unrelated to our circumstances and none of the carols or tinsel will make it go away.
The joy we talk about in church during Advent is not the same as “holiday cheer,” and it is not something we need to generate. We don’t make ourselves feel joyful. Joy is something we receive from God. And nothing we feel now will prevent us from receiving joy when God gives it.
If you’re not feeling the “holiday spirit,” don’t be hard on yourself. If tonight is a night with more weeping than laughter, that is okay. Look for a safe, quiet place where you can feel whatever is in your heart. Weeping may last for a night (or a few, or a season), but joy will come. We might not know when that dawn will break, but it always, always will.