We are approaching that time of year where the festive commercials come on with the picture of families all together before tables filled with food, laughter, and smiles. We are also entering the Christmas zone when we all will face the bombarding of advertisements tempting us to buy certain gifts for family members and the latest greatest toys available to intrigue our children.
I remember those days when I was younger. The anticipation of food, gifts, tree lights, and new warm slippers. It all paints a pretty picture. Of course this year things are a bit different because a lot of us have been warned that to say “Merry Christmas” violates some human rights. I’m pretty sure that is not true, but for some reason that is what part of our country wants to present this year. I imagine the commercials will take on a new feel as “Happy Holidays” will take over. Unfortunately this will not change much about the holy celebrations that are about to take place. The very word “holiday” means “holy day”.
I want to get to my point before I get off on a tangent about the renaming of Christmas! As a look back upon our annual celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus, there have been amazing times and those which were filled with grief and depression. For instance, the first Christmas after my son went to heaven was one I wish I could have avoided. For many, the upcoming holidays are just reminders of what we are missing instead of what we have. I would love to turn it around for you all and tell you to focus on what you are grateful for. While this is the best practice, I also know there are seasons when we are grateful but there are also circumstances when there can be deep sadness.
Not every elderly person has family around. Not every child looks forward to gifts with a gleam in their eyes. Some service men and women are far away from their loved ones and would give anything for just the gift of a hug this season. Being far from loved ones is a hard thing to face. Along with the holy part of the holidays we turn our faces to God, the one who made us and keeps us through every day of every year. In the face of sadness, depression, loneliness, and separation, we are confronted with a love that comes from heaven that begs to heal us. There are some pains that all the alcohol, pills, well wishes, far away phone calls, and sparkling gifts will not heal or even appease.
Before I get you into a downer here, I have to say this is hard enough to write let alone know it will come across negative, but it is truth. Not everyone will have a “Happy New Year” celebration. For those who are hurting, its almost like a triple cocktail of unwanted reminders that something is just not right this season. If this is YOU, then my heart reaches for you. I’ve been there, I know that achy feeling deep inside that won’t stop nagging that something hurts beyond anyone’s control. If this is YOU, God’s heart also reaches for you. He understands the feelings of loss and the grief that comes from being alone, lost, angry, hurt, rejected, less than feeling blessed.
I am awake very early in the morning writing this, so I know that God is already concerned for you. His heart is with you and He wants to ease your distress with the comfort of His Holy Spirit. He is called “the comforter” and He completely understands. Remember that baby Jesus was born in a barn, was different than everyone around Him, was scorned by His own family members, was taunted by religious law leaders, was hated by those who feared what He might change, was misrepresented by those who thought He was here to start a revolution, was betrayed by one He dearly loved, was murdered by those who misunderstood Him. Still today, this world begs to push Him away; to keep Him even out of the celebration of His own birth. Maybe they can’t find his birth certificate. (Ok, that one was bad, lol).
If the upcoming holy days are already beginning to tax your heart, I want you to know you are not alone. Not only is Jesus with you, and all, but there are those who care about your difficult struggle during a time that should be a blessed celebration with those we love. Be assured that Jesus has been near you all year long and will remain through any of your days. He will never forsake you and He completely understands your pain and depressive moments.
If you are reading this and already know that you are one who will be needing someone to talk to, please know you have someone you can put a voice to. You can call my toll free number and please leave a message for a call back for a talk and prayer session if there is no immediate answer. I WILL get back to you. Depression and sadness should not have to happen during the holidays, but it is NORMAL when it does. We are human; all of us.
For talk/prayer call 800-421-1765. You don’t even have to wait for the holidays to come. You can start now if you need to. Life is HARD but it is so much harder when faced alone feeling no one understands. I can tell you this though. It will be ok. Whatever it is you face might be hurtful, might cause depression, might feel lonely, but it will be ok. This too shall pass. I admire your strength, your tenacity, your ability to be resilient, and I honor your pain for whatever reason it might be haunting you.
Don’t forget to call. It WILL help. I love you to heaven and back! (Something I tell my children).
Pastor Jenine Marie Howry