For those hurting this Christmas—
. . . for the mom reeling from the loss of a child you never met;
. . . for the wife whose marriage is hanging together by a thread;
. . . for the daughter who is watching an aging parent suffer and decline;
. . . for the grandmother praying for that prodigal to come home;
. . . for the patient spending Christmas in a hospital bed, fighting for life—
For the weak, abandoned, lonely, and sorrowful:
While others around you are preparing for a festive holiday filled with cheer, you are filled with grief. In “the season to be jolly,” your world is turned upside down. Instead of “merry and bright,” you’re feeling downtrodden and isolated. This “most wonderful time of the year” is only a painful reminder of what you have lost, what will never be the same, what could have been.
You know the Christmas story. You can probably recite Luke 2 by heart. Only your heart’s not in it this year. Can I offer you hope, sweet sister in Christ? Your reality may be beyond what you can bear this December, but it’s not beyond the capable hands of our loving Father. It’s okay if you don’t have all the feels this year or don’t find interest in decorating sugar cookies. God never asks or expects us to slap on a grin when we’re enduring hardship, as if it were as easy as flipping a switch.
These difficult and deep emotions were never meant to be squashed or concealed. But in your weariness don’t lose sight of the wonder of the incarnation. Even in the midst of your penetrating pain and suffocating sorrow don’t miss the Man of Sorrows who came to suffer pain and death for you.
Where to Find Comfort
Throughout the first thirty-nine books of our Bible is woven a plan of redemption for mankind. After four-hundred years of silence—of waiting, hoping, and wondering—God inaugurated His plan. He sent into the world the Hope of nations that He had promised—Jesus, the One who would save His people from their sins.
We find a similar pattern in the book of Isaiah the prophet. After thirty-nine chapters of prophetic warnings of just punishment on a rebellious people, the pattern is broken with one word: “comfort.”
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.”
God interrupted years of silence to proclaim peace. He broke through deep darkness to shine a beacon of good news. He promised His weary, waiting children that hope was on the horizon.
“A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’ ”
Where to Find Hope
These words offer us hope because it foretells of the One who was to come to make a way back to intimate fellowship with God. This relationship had been severed by sin and death; but in Jesus comes the pathway to grace and life.
God didn’t have to send His Son, but He did. Jesus didn’t have to take on human flesh, but He did. He didn’t have to enter time and space and grow in His mother’s womb, but He did. He didn’t have to work hard or pray often or serve many, but He did. He didn’t have to humble Himself or accept ridicule or endure punishment or take on our sin . . . but He did!
He did all this—from conception to resurrection—so that you might have hope, so that you might experience peace, so that you might know His love and absorb His grace and fight for joy.
Where to Find Rest
Don’t give up, dear hurting one. You may not feel any yuletide cheer, but you can remember the joyful news this season represents. You may not want to sing about decked halls or jingling bells, but there is greater news worth singing about. Don’t let your sorrow lure you away from Him who brings tidings of comfort and joy. The same little Lord Jesus away in the manger is the mighty King Jesus and Savior who offers you rest for your soul and strength for your burden (Matt. 11:28-30).
Take heart, for Jesus has overcome the world and will make all things new. His first advent points to the surety of His second advent—when He, the Good Shepherd, “will guide [you] to springs of living water,” and “wipe away every tear from [your] eyes.” (Rev. 7:17)
What is your burden this Christmas? How is sorrow or pain weighing you down? Jesus is ready to embrace you in His arms if you arise and go to Him. Will you look to Christ through your tears and find strength in His Name?