If you stopped by because you read my devotion on November 18, 2016 over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME! So glad you are here!
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:38-40 (NIV)
Holidays are exciting, joyful and greatly anticipated. Sometimes. But there are also times when the Holidays can be hard to handle. There may be some who have lost a loved one and they face what is supposed to be a joyful time with dread. Others may have no close family or friends at all to celebrate with. Many struggle with disease or depression and seeing the happiness in other people’s faces amplifies the hurt in their own lives.
The first Christmas after my grandmother passed away was hard. She was a petite woman and we used to love seeing her covered over with presents. They would be stacked in her lap, around her feet and her sweet smile was barely seen over the pile. And when she began opening her gifts, her face lit up like a child’s.
The next year, my grandfather had also passed. I had wonderful memories of Christmas’ past when he would leave the adults conversing in one room to come gather us grandkids together to sing songs with us as he played his little ukulele.
It was hard. But as new babies were born into the family, the Christmas gatherings were filled with joy as new little voices filled the room even as we reminisced the past.
The first year after my father-in-law passed, someone gave a special gift to each of the 5 children. It was a bear made out of shirts their father had worn. A small piece of him was there with the family.
It’s hard facing the holidays with that pain in your heart. But we can be assured that God sees and understands the separation from a loved one.
Think about the first Christmas. Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus in a dusty stable. It wasn’t a large family gathering, unless you count the multitude of angels. And the first Christmas that Christ was present on earth meant that God was without His Son in heaven, for the first time. Sure, God the Father and Son were One, yet they are also distinct persons of the trinity. And God knew what the future held for Christ. A future of being rejected and ultimately crucified, at which point God would completely be separated from Christ. For a time.
When our loved ones who know Christ pass away, we face that first Christmas separated from them. For a time. But we also know we will once again see them face to face, just as Christ returned to heaven and now sits by the Father. There is sadness at the separation, but oh, what joy awaits in the reunion.
If you are having trouble facing the Holidays, for whatever reason, think about that first Christmas. God knows the pain we feel. He understands loss and loneliness. Christ understands rejection and sadness. He empathizes with our sickness and depression. Because He has been there.
Allow God to comfort your hearts at you face the Holidays. Remember the wonderful times you once had with your loved one. Know that the pain of disease and depression is temporary. God can meet our needs if we let Him. He can turn that pain into rejoicing. As we focus on the reason for Christmas, as we worship God for the gift of salvation, He can fill our hearts with peace and joy in a way that nothing else can.
And if that pain you feel is because you do not have that personal relationship with Christ, allow Him to come into your heart. God separated Himself from His Son for that exact reason. So that Christ could live, die and resurrect that you might be saved. Ask Him into your heart today.
This life on earth can be painful. For a time. The pain we endure for a time, in no way compares to an eternity of celebrating every Holy-Day with Christ.
Heavenly Father, Thank You for sending Your Son to earth to live, die and resurrect for me. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas season that we celebrate, there are some who are hurting for many reasons. May they be reminded of Your love. Let every light they see remind them You are the truth, the light and the way. May every gift they see remind them of the gift of Your Son and of the gift of salvation. May every joyful sound they hear remind them that true joy is only found in You. Thank You for Your love that is so freely given. In Jesus’ name, Amen.