Why our Souls are Stirred at Christmas

It happens to me every year—whenever I hear certain Christmas carols like— O Holy Night and O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. I get choked up; my emotions overtaking me. No matter where I am—at church, the mall, or in the car; whether I am having a great Christmas or a very sad one, I get this lump in my throat whenever I hear these songs. For you it may be some other Christmas-related thing that elicits this deep stirring within your soul. I remember even getting this way before I got saved.

What is it?

~Is it linked to a fond memory from a childhood Christmas day? No, I don’t think so—didn’t have too many of those.

~Is it due to some great gift I received one Christmas morn? No.

~Does it stem from many people being nicer this time of year? No.

In fact, I can’t say that this je ne sais quoi is really a feeling at all. For sometimes it’s mingled with joy, but at other times sadness, loneliness or even emptiness.

Well, one Christmas I received a book from a friend by Joni Eareckson Tada. And there it was—my answer!

As Joni describes in her book A Christmas Longing:

“What was I looking for? Why did I feel this mysterious pull…?

I know now that I was deep into a Christmas longing. It’s a longing each of us senses this time of year…a desire to be home, to belong, to find fulfillment, complete and eternal.

Christmas is an invitation to a celebration yet to happen.

On this side of eternity, Christmas is still a promise. Yes, the Savior has come, and with Him peace on Earth, but the story is not finished. Yes, there is peace in our hearts, but we long for peace in our world.

Every December 25 marks another year that draws us closer to the fulfillment of the ages, that draws us closer to… home.

Every holiday carol is a beautiful echo of the heavenly choir which will one day fill the universe with joy and singing.

Every Christmas gift is a foreshadowing of our gifts of golden crowns to be cast at the feet of the King of kings.

Every smile, every embrace beckons us onward, calls us upward when we will be with loved ones forever, when we will see our Lord face to face.”[i]

Well put, Joni!

I think I get choked up every year because it is the Lord Himself drawing me.

Before I was saved I believe that strange feeling was God attempting to make Himself known; making me aware of His existence and care; a calling to be with Him. Eventually—finally—I responded to that call.

Now He’s telling me, deep in my spirit, that He is the fulfillment of my every longing; that He is in the process of that fulfillment—and I can celebrate in that. He’s reminding me that the ache in my heart to see my wonderful husband again will soon be alleviated; reassuring me that one day He will make everything right.

I think Christmas may be harder for those of us who have lost a loved one or going through a major hardship, because what’s wrong in the world is so up close and personal.

So the next time you get choked up over some Christmas-related thing, remember:

That’s your heavenly Father drawing you to a better day when all will be completed!

My soul faints with longing for your salvation…. (Ps 119:123)

Meanwhile my friends, rejoice and be glad in THIS day (Ps 118:24). God’s longing for that day too; greatly anticipating the time when He will be with you, and all of His people, forever in bliss!

Merry Christmas!

[i] A Christmas Longing

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.