The holiday season can be a painful time. This year, I know several people who have lost loved ones, whose lives have been turned upside down, who are in physical pain, or depressed or lonely.
This year, our family will be missing two special people at our table at Christmas.
I know what it is to grieve a loved one, to miss someone who’s far away, to be lonely and sad, to feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of tragedies around the world. If you are dealing with these or other difficult circumstances this year, let me just say, in case no one else has, that I’m sorry the holiday season is painful for you and you’re going through a hard time.
I’ve been there before, and I know it hurts.
And because I’ve been there, I want to take away your pain. But I can’t. The best thing I can do for you is something I’m already doing: I’m praying for you. Every day. I don’t know what your needs are, I may not even know your name, but God does. He knows, and he listens to the prayers of his people.
Christmas is more than just a story about a special baby whose birth was a big deal. This baby, God’s Son Jesus, grew into a man who understands pain and suffering and offers comfort, rest, peace, and forgiveness. He came to set captives free and offer life and hope to all of us who want it.
That doesn’t mean we won’t suffer. After all, the world is filled with suffering. It does mean that he’ll help us through it; it means he will never leave our side as he walks through it with us.
God is with us in the hard times, the good times, all the time. And because of his presence with us, he makes it possible to have joy even in the middle of suffering, as strange as it sounds. It’s a profound mystery—one that I’ve experienced many times through the years.
If this is a difficult holiday season for you, ask God to make himself real to you this Christmas. Ask him to show you that he is with you, and then when he does, don’t explain it away. Accept it, and look for him again.
And if you don’t know Jesus, give yourself a gift and read his story in the book of John (or Mark) in the Bible. It’s a story of beauty, goodness, and truth, and it’s my all-time favorite. It might become your favorite too.
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