Gifts. Pretty lights and decorations. A delicious feast. But, behind the beautiful place settings, perfectly carved turkey, prettily packaged gifts, and in the midst of a thousand Christmas lights may sit a darkened heart. Behind the laughter could lie sadness. A heart longing for something more. Something that will heal the hurt and the sting of loss that always lies just beyond the surface. In God’s Word, in the book of Proverbs, it says,
“Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of joy may be grief.” Proverbs 14:13 (ESV)
The New Living Translation translates it this way:
Laughter can conceal a heavy heart,
but when the laughter ends, the grief remains. Proverbs 14:13
None of the previously mentioned ways to celebrate are wrong. Good times are a gift from God, as well as family and food. However, no matter how tasty the food, or how elegant the decorations, they can never serve as a salve for a hurting heart. And no amount of laughter can erase the ache in a soul.
Everyone of us has in one way or another experienced the pain of loss. More than likely, there is a loved one that you desire was seated around the table with you. Perhaps a friend, a grandparent, cousin or nephew. Or perhaps the loss was even closer to home, a parent, child, grandchild or a spouse.
The loss experienced may not necessarily be due to a death. It could be due to someone moving far away, a divorce, a disagreement that resulted in a strained relationship or a myriad of other reasons.
So what can we do? Try to ignore the pain and deny its existence? Or, maybe, keep so busy that there’s no time left to dwell? Or perhaps a little shopping therapy will do the trick?
Well…denying something that exists only works for so long, until we are hit with reality. Running hard will eventually exhaust our bodies forcing us to be still. And soon, the ‘gift giving season’ will come to a close and if you’ve used your credit cards because you spent more than your budget, it’s resulted in a debt-sized weight to carry around that will make life even more difficult.
Four ways to Refocus This Season
#1. Remembering Who Christ Is
The record of His earthly life and ministry reveals that He understands what pain, sorrow and an aching heart is. John 11:35 records that ,
Jesus wasn’t stoic, cold and unfeeling, . He was (and is) Almighty God, who humbled Himself for all mankind in order to bring them to Himself and demonstrate His great love. Yet, in spite of this, He was rejected by all (John 1), and experienced pain and the emotions that accompany it. He wept, His heart was moved within Him, He had anguish of soul and was know as a “man of sorrows”.
Throughout His time here on earth, He may have been frequently surrounded by a multitude of people, but at the end in the darkest moment, all abandoned Him and He was left alone. Jesus knows what it’s like to suffer and be alone.
Isaiah 53 says He was: ‘despised’, ‘rejected’, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief’, afflicted’, and ‘experienced anguish of soul. Have you ever experienced any of these? If so, you can identify with Jesus. And even more so, He understands your saddened heart.
He is the perfect One to help us in our time of need because He has been there and He has all the power to comfort us.
Remembering who Christ is, reminds us that, as Hebrews 4;14-16 says, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
2.) Remembering Why Christ Came
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor…to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion–to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit…that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3 [emphasis added]
Jesus read this very passage in the Synagogue (Luke 4:16-21) and declared that “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The prophecy was about Him. He would bring good news, He would bind up the brokenhearted…Luke tells us that the night Mary gave birth to Jesus, the angels delivered a message to the poor shepherds keeping watch over their flock. The angel’s message was, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…” Luke 2:10 [emphasis added]
From His very first night on earth, Christ fulfilled the first part of bringing “good news to the poor”.
He desires also to bind those hearts that have been broken.
Psalm 34:18, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
He’s near, we simply must go to Him. James assures us that if we, “draw near to God…He will draw near to us.”(4:8) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
#3. Remembering that one, glorious day, God will make all things new and all the pain and suffering will be wiped away.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. he will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.. he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4
#4. Be the Hands and Feet of Christ by Serving and Giving to those in Need
Sometimes there’s so much need, it can be overwhelming and hard to know how and where to start. In the eyes of the Lord, simply giving a cup of water to another who is thirsty or a plate of food to one with hunger, counts as if we did it unto Him. Visiting those who are sick or in prison means so much, that Christ considers it as if we visited Him. Whatever we do to the least of these, however small it may seem, can be great in the sight of the Lord when it’s done in His Name. (Matthew 25:34-40)
Maybe you desire to give a gift to a charity or organization, but don’t have a specific one in mind. Here are a few my husband and I support: The Voice of the Martrys, Bibles for the World, and Crown Ministries. It’s not the amount you give that matters, but that you are willing to share the blessings that God has given you.
Serving others is a joyful task because it truly is more of a blessing to give than to receive.
Like the old hymn says, although our souls may be “weary and troubled, no light in the darkness [they] see…”When we fix our eyes on Jesus and focus on His beautiful face, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” What a glorious transformation. A soul worn and exhausted without a ray of hope is transformed by simply focusing on Jesus and His wonderful light of hope.
This can bring hope to a hurting heart, because Jesus came to save, bind wounds, give liberty and comfort. Christ’s desire is to give us abundant life. But we also have a very real enemy and he has a goal as well. His goal is to “kill, steal and destroy.” (John 10:10)
If you are in a deep state of depression and see no light in the future or reason for continuing on, please share your thoughts with others and seek help. Don’t allow the enemy to destroy you. Meet with your pastor or a professional Christian counselor. Both can point you to the Healer, who is capable of lifting you out of the miry pit in which you find yourself at this moment.
Disclaimer: This article is not meant to substitute for counseling, my desire is to simply share some truths to help us refocus this holiday season and find the joy again by remembering Christ and the hope He brings to us.
May Your Christmas and Holiday Season be filled with the Wonders and Hope of His Great Love!