Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy Hanukkah!
The holiday season should be one of great joy and celebration. Here in these United States of America, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's, to include Christmas, is a time of celebration, of giving thanks and giving gifts, of reflection on the wonderful year God has given us and anticipation of the continued grace and mercy He will offer in the coming year. Everyone greets with "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas."
But for some, even Christians, this time of year and the reflection it brings is not one of joy, happiness, and celebration, but one of loss and heartache. We think on friends and family we've lost, and sometimes we wonder why, or even what we could have done to prevent it. We think, maybe if we had spent more time with them, we would have been there when their heart stopped, or when their mind failed. We wonder if we had paid more attention, could we have seen the warning signs and interceded before the bad choice, or maybe been there in time to change the outcome. We think, if we had just been a little less selfish, maybe they would still be with us. And sometimes we get angry that their selfishness took them away from us, their bad choices ended their temporal pain, but caused years of sorrow for the survivors. When we hear "Merry Christmas," it rubs salt in the wound and all we want to reply is "Bah Humbug!"
Christian, we are neither immune to the pain nor alone in it.
"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.' When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 'Where have you laid him?' he asked. 'Come and see, Lord,' they replied." (John 11:33-34, NIV)
Christ knows our suffering. He feels our pain. Every hurt, every temptation and every sorrow pierces his heart as deeply as it pierces ours. And while we still feel the pain, and while we are reminded during what should be a joyous season of the suffering of others around us, know that Jesus not only feels every heartache, but he offers healing and salvation in return.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." (Psa 23, NKJV)
So, lean on Him. Trust in Him. And know that your fellow Christians are here to help carry your burden. Christian, be the shoulder to cry on, the ear to listen, and the hand reaching out to help.
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe." (Prov 18:10, NKJV)
And remember you are not alone, nor is your pain more than Christ can bear. Jesus loved Lazarus and Mary, and he shared her pain, not because Lazarus was dead, but because Mary was hurting.
"Jesus wept." (John 11:35, NIV)
–Mark Klages is an influential contributor, a former US Marine and a lifelong teacher who focuses on applying a Christian worldview to everyday events. Mark blogs at https://maklagesl3.wixsite.com/website under the title "God Provides where Hate Divides," with a heart to heal social, political, relational, and intellectual wounds through God's divine love and grace. Mark can also be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-klages-04b42511/.