How to Deal with Gloomy Clouds and Dark Shadows at Christmas

By December 17, 2013 faith No Comments


Typically I crack out the Christmas tunes the day after Thanksgiving. My meager collection has the usual—renditions of the classics along with plenty of creative original songs. I know the lines by heart, slipping into them like a favorite cozy sweater. Sometimes I am singing along, almost mindlessly, and my attention isn’t even with the song—I’m thinking about baking measurements or crafting a newsletter for a client project or something.

But then, a snippet of lyric will break through my fog, flooring me. What am I singing?

Two songs in particular are working together on my heart this year, breaking though all manner of mindless singing. The first is my all-time Christmas favorite, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” with its mournful, wistful longing that chips away at the stone within my heart. This verse does it every time:

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

How I want—how I need—Jesus to chase away my sin and sadness, to cheer my spirit and remind me that He is greater than the brokenness I see in me and those I love and the evil in the world.

The second song, “Joy to the World,” ties in with my longing for Jesus to draw near. This verse reminds me of the sure hope He is:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

Because Day-spring has come to “disperse the gloomy clouds” and “death’s dark shadows,” He has come “to make His blessings flow as far as the curse is found.”

Isn’t that good news? How I need that. I admit—there are days when the curse feels greater. It’s fueling war, poverty, human trafficking, exploitation, violence, and injustice. It’s fueling sadness, mistrust, worry, fear, betrayal, hatred, selfishness, hiding, posturing, and greed. The curse is powerful, indeed.

It seems every day I read another account of how the curse is running rampant around the world. Likewise, it seems every day I find another way the curse has run deep in me, in the back alleys and darkened corners of my own heart.

My Christmas joy is dampened by the curse’s gloomy clouds and dark shadows. I feel the weight of it in my bones, in the deepest part of my heart, in the pit of my stomach.

These Christmas songs remind me of the good news: that the curse’s reach can go only so far. Christmas reminds me that Jesus reaches farther still with a love that will not let me go.

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