When Christmas Leaves You Cheerless: Christmas Devotional for Teenagers

We are loved by a God who always keeps his promises. The Old Testament is rich with promises concerning our coming Messiah, and from the opening lines of Matthew, we begin to see those promises perfectly fulfilled, starting with the most intimate details of Jesus’ birth. Back in 2019, we invited you and your teenagers to join us for a 16-day Christmas devotional series centering around Messianic prophecies. This year we will round out that series with eight more posts, so you’ll have one for every day of the Christmas season. 

We pray your heart will be encouraged and your faith strengthened as you and your teenagers meditate together on the game-changing truth that our God says what he means and means what he says. O Come Let Us Adore Him!

Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink. (Psalm 69: 20-21)

Not exactly the cheery Christmas Psalm you would expect, is it? This cry from David, the author, isn’t supposed to leave a positive impression. It’s meant to put us in the posture of feeling some of the abandonment and despair that David was experiencing when he wrote this psalm.

If we look at the whole of this psalm, it becomes clear that David is in a tough spot: he uses phrases like “I am weary with crying out;” “I am sinking in the mire.” Psalm 69 is meant to remind us of our helpless estate. But then we read vs. 20-21, above: a foreshadowing of the salvation that David is crying out for, a promise of Someone who will come and take all of David’s pain and despair upon Himself.

This Psalm foretells of the moment Jesus, the true Savior, died on the cross for our sin. Do you remember one of the last things Jesus said as he was dying? John 19 tells us:  Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

David’s cry in this Psalm foreshadows the death of Jesus—the One whose heart was completely broken when He was separated from His Heavenly Father. The One who was God Himself but left completely alone in His suffering. The One who tasted the ultimate poison—death—so that you and I never will. The One who went thirsty so that we might drink from the rivers of living water without price.

Even during the “most wonderful time of the year,” we can resonate with David’s desperation. We can feel lonely, anxious, and empty when the rest of the world seems to be full of Christmas cheer. Yet, this psalm reminds us of the great hope that has come to us though Jesus. This Christmas, may we look to Him with awe and gratitude. May we rejoice that He came to take on our sadness, our loneliness, our unquenchable thirst. May we cling to the assurance that even though we may feel as David did, we have a Savior who took on our hopelessness so that we might know Him as our sure and certain hope.

Questions for Reflection

  • We know that while we can grow physically thirsty, there is also a deeper “thirst” we all have for satisfaction and fulfillment. Where are some places you are running to for “water” to satisfy you but coming up empty? How does Jesus offer a deeper satisfaction than anything else in the world can give?
  • What is an area of your life right now where you feel alone or abandoned? What does Jesus’ human suffering on the cross assure you about how He relates to your suffering? Ask that God would remind you of how He too felt alone, despised, and “without comforters” while He was on the cross. Take time now to offer up a prayer like David’s, where you cry to God for deliverance.
  • We’ve seen that Jesus took on all the pain that we deserve because of our sin. Write out a prayer of repentance to God where you confess some of the ways you have sinned against Him. When He has softened your heart to see the weight of your sin, ask that He would fill you with the assurance that He has endured the penalty of your sins because of His great love and mercy. What a gift to enjoy this Christmas!

Closing Prayer

Jesus, we thank you that, on the cross, you tasted ultimate despair, separation, thirst, and the poison of death on our behalf. Help us know you more as our Savior, the One we can cry out to in our moments of desolation. We trust that you are a God who is near to us in our pain because of your great love for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Click here for a downloadable pdf to print and share with your teenagers.

Click here for the entire series as it is posted.

Rebecca serves as the Ministry Development Coordinator/Assistant Editor for Rooted. Previously, she has worked in both youth and young adult ministries. She is a graduate of Furman University and recently completed her Master’s in Theology at Beeson Divinity School. Rebecca is happiest on a porch swing, in a boat, or on the dance floor.

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