It’s that time of year when Pandora is playing Christmas songs all day long in my house. The garlands are up giving me a twinkle and a flash. The manger scene displays its humble reverence on my mantle. The joy of the season is upon us!

Yet I’ve become painfully aware that this joyful time is not a reality for everyone.

I hear on the news about loved one’s lost in recent shootings. A child passing from this life too soon by an unforeseen accident. A call from a friend whose marriage is failing, with the added sting of a painful affair attached. Health issues, job losses, post-partum depression. Financial stress, panic attacks, fatigue that makes waking up each day strenuous. Life demonstrates clearly to me that seeking joy amidst dismal circumstances can be anything but easy to adhere.

Yet God’s word says that we are able to rise above our circumstances with a faith and trust that goes beyond just blind hope. A hope, trusting God to bring us joy, through His spirit working in us to be able to rise above our emotional state even when we feel stuck in those hollow places.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13, NIV.

You may be thinking, “Yeah, I’ve heard this before. I get that I should seek joy amidst my circumstanced. It’s just fine and dandy for you to believe this truth and have it play out in your life. Yet you don’t know what I’ve been through. You don’t know how hard life is for me.”

True. I do not. But I know someone who does.

Joy can be cultivated in those hollow places of our hearts. Let God’s truth and Holy Spirit sift through the cracks and fill those hollows within your heart with His holy presence.

Jesus Christ was beaten and bruised, chastised and spit upon, slandered and disowned by those he loved. Those who even claimed to love him. He knows about betrayal. He knows what it’s like to feel alone. He especially knows what mind-numbing pain and grief feels like.

God on earth—Jesus Christ—became the sacrificial lamb of flesh and blood so that we might be able to experience a joy that goes beyond our circumstances. Joy that surpasses all understanding.

God’s word says He took the sins of all the world—all the pains, the aches, the frustrations, the stress, the anxieties, the shame, the broken hollow places of our hearts—and placed this suffering upon His shoulders that day when He was nailed to the cross (Isaiah 53). Yes friend, even yours.

It all started with a baby born in a manger that starry Christmas night thousands of years ago. Joy entered the world that night (Isaiah 9:6). And joy was left for our keeping through Christ’s sacrifice. A sacrifice enabling us to embrace joy that goes beyond our flesh and experience love that runs beyond earths boundaries. He left us with true sacrificial joy obtained by his resurrection on the cross, gifting us with the power of the Holy Spirit that now resides in us (Romans 5:5; 8:9). A gift, I believe, of infinite worth and beyond measure.

Joy can be cultivated in those hollow places of our hearts. Let God’s truth and Holy Spirit sift through the cracks and fill those hollows within your heart with His holy presence. Allow His perfect peace to take the place of your distress.

Christ will fill those cracks in your heart; cracks only He can mend. Let Him cultivate that joy from within, which goes beyond the current circumstances through his satisfying love and embrace.