Christmas carols fill the air; smiles and laughter are everywhere. A stroll through town reveals glistening windows boasting of tasty holiday treats and shiny red ribbon. Twinkling lights dance in unexpected places and bounce off sparkling trees. Whether you appreciate lots of gold and glitter or simple candles, the blessing of our Lord’s birth is celebrated with expression!
While Christmas is full of joy and celebration, the world is not exempt from sorrow during this season. For many of us, our hurting hearts experience intensified ache as memories flood our minds. Perhaps the memory is of a loved one now in heaven. Maybe the memory haunts as part of a painful past; something we wish could be changed or undone. Pain not only exists from the past but in the daily present. Discouragement doesn’t stop lurking. Disease doesn’t stop waging its war. Death doesn’t pause for a few days.
No matter what is causing your hurt, allow yourself the opportunity to recognize the struggle you feel during the holiday season. Think also of your friends or family who may benefit from words of encouragement for hard times. When a difficult holiday is threatening to overwhelm you or a loved one, call to mind the many uplifting Bible verses about trusting in God in hard times.
When Jesus was born, His parents didn’t plan a gender reveal party. No one ordered a baby shower cake. Oh, Mary, yes, as the mother, she prepared for the arrival of her baby. But a business trip for tax purposes was probably the last thing on her agenda. Riding a donkey most likely would have been her last wish in her ninth month of pregnancy. The point is: Jesus wasn’t born into ideal circumstances. Despite the stable which most of us would deem unsuitable accommodations, the Light of the World made His grand entrance in the form of a little baby. Human flesh held the Son of God and the glory of the night could not be contained. Angels sang their glory to God and hope, true Hope for the world was born!
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! Luke 2:14 ESV
Sixteen years ago, my daughter, Taylor, unwrapped her Christmas gifts with exuberance. Though diagnosed with a rare terminal disease, she brought so much joy everywhere she went. Her pigtails and giggles were the perfect bubbly match. Our family has watched her gradually lose skill after skill from speaking to singing to feeding herself. Today her smiles are scant and her pain becoming more evident. She is fighting to perform daily essential activities like walking, chewing and swallowing.
She can no longer unwrap gifts. This Christmas I’ll ponder whether it will be her last and that makes it a difficult season. Rather than focus on the gifts she can’t unwrap, we’re focusing on the gift she is to us. Rather than wish for better circumstances, we’re doing our best to rest in God’s plan as the best plan for her life. Rather than walk through this suffering alone, we’re hanging on to the hope that Jesus gives as He walks through this valley with us.
Regardless of the trials you face during the Christmas season, the gift you need the most is the One who longs to live in your heart. Despite the tough circumstances you’re facing, God’s plan is the best plan for your life; He loves you too much to think anything otherwise. No matter the ache or the longing, the sorrow or the suffering, the birth of Jesus brought hope and healing to the entire world. For this, we can celebrate with JOY!
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16,17 ESV
RACHEL WOJO is the author of One More Step: Finding Strength When You Feel Like Giving Up. She has written over 20 Bible reading plans and hosted Bible reading challenges for over 8 years on her popular blog, rachelwojo.com. As parents to 7 children, Rachel and her husband, Matt, enjoy raising their family in Columbus, OH.