Christmas – t'is the season to be jolly, eat mince pies and wear cosy jumpers. However, for many, it can be a season of anxiety, loneliness and grief.

Stress over the many social engagements, large family get-togethers which trigger debate and disconnection, sitting alone at home, or grieving the loss of a loved one – these struggles are pertinent throughout the year, but the messaging around Christmas as a joy-filled and family-oriented season can make this a particularly painful and isolating time. Christians are uniquely placed, equipped and called to speak hope into this season. 

In a secular context, if Christmas could be condensed into two words, they would be doing’ and having’ – attending parties, spending time with family and friends, buying and receiving presents. The social aspect of Christmas can be particularly impactful – on every platform, we are bombarded with images of smiling couples and close-knit, happy families sitting around the fireplace wearing matching Christmas jumpers. This is a beautiful picture no doubt, but it is not comparable to what is a challenging reality for many others.

In the UK, an estimated 400,000 elderly people are alone on Christmas Eve. A further 250,000 have nobody to celebrate the season with. This has become such a pressing problem that there is an appointed Minister for Loneliness in the UK, which in and of itself highlights what a huge issue loneliness is within our country.


We know that there is a decline in mental health around this time of year. There is extra pressure to socialise and be cheerful, and it’s often assumed that everybody has a family to celebrate with. For anyone who is already struggling with their mental health or with loneliness, this pressure only amplifies these. I have been shocked by the amount of content online about staying healthy – not just physically, but mentally – in the Christmas season. 

However, this is not a totally new concept. King David speaks about loneliness in Psalm 25. Although loneliness may look different in our day and age, as we balance that awkward dichotomy of non-stop and instantaneous conversation yet lacking personal connection and ultimately feeling isolated within a crowd, David’s distress is still relevant. However, God speaks into this space beautifully, particularly at Christmastime.

From a Christian perspective, Christmas is a season of hopeful expectation – the weeks of Advent which lead up to Christmas mark a new step towards the birth of Jesus. The story of Jesus’ birth and arrival is drenched in a sense of God’s love, providence and provision for His people, right down to the smallest detail. This ultimate message of hope, the gospel, marks out what Christianity is about: it is beautifully inclusive and life-giving. 

God asks us to be in relationship with Him and we are made in His image to be in relationship with others (Gen 1:27). He has called us to love our neighbour. At Christmas, love came down (John 4:9). The birth of God’s Son is the beginning of the biggest demonstration of God’s love for us. Jesus came in the most vulnerable, humble form to die for the sins of the world on the cross (Philippians 2:5 – 11). 

The Bible says that followers of Christ are called to speak light and love into a world of darkness and isolation, and to love our neighbours as God loved us (Matthew 22:34 – 40). Many people will be familiar with the term WWJD” – What would Jesus do? When I reflect on the character and nature of God the Father and Christ the Son, I am convinced that Jesus would be with the lost and the lonely at Christmastime. Psalm 68:5 – 6 speaks about God placing the lonely in families. 

Particularly the people on the fringes of society and those who are suffering are those in need of love and community in this season. God’s word consistently reminds us that He is with us. He sees, hears us and knows us (Deut. 31:6, Psalm 139:7 – 10, Joshua 1:5 – 6, Isaiah 49:16) – even when the world does not always. Immanuel, God with us, is never more powerful or meaningful than at Christmastime. In a world where loneliness and disconnection are on the rise, the simple yet profound gift of love and care which we can give to those around us is radically counter-cultural and transformative (Philippians 2:3 – 4).

Let this be an encouragement as well as a challenge to us to look out for those in our communities who are isolated and suffering, whether openly or beneath the surface. Be attentive to God’s voice and Spirit this season, pray for those around you, and remember the tremendous gift that is the coming of Jesus to earth. As opposed to doing’ and having’, let us focus on being’ and loving’ – being the arms, the hands, ears and eyes of Jesus, serving our community and loving those around us who are lonely and in need of God’s never-ceasing love.

Photo by Paola Chaaya