As I turn on my radio station, I am overwhelmed with Christmas music. I can’t help myself as I sing along and join in on all the familiar songs, feeling rather nostalgic and excited for the next few weeks to come. One familiar tune I am sure many of you know is “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth”…and it got me thinking about a lot of different “requests” this time of year. Not your typical requests like a new bike, an IPad, or a gift card from your favorite coffee shop or store, but the ones that some of us don’t talk about, or feel comfortable enough to share.
The other day I was visiting with someone, who in her vulnerable state shared how her daughter and new husband decided they would no longer have anything to do with them. The kids have made their position clear, they feels that the conflicts cannot be fixed. As a result they are heartbroken at the thought that their family won’t all be together for Christmas.
Her story is just one of the many stories that tug on my heart, especially during this time of year. After all, Christmas is family – it’s being together. For many though, Christmas draws out deeply aching and heavy hearts. People hurt from a host of devastating situations – the loss of a loved one, the end of a marriage, estranged family members, a troubled and disconnected child, job and financial loss or loneliness and distance from a host of other hard situations. Having someone you love choosing not to share this season with you is be very difficult. The feeling of being alone is hardest when it looks like everyone around us is happy and busy with Christmas parties, gift exchanges, children’s performances and celebrations and especially family stuff.
Is there a way to find perspective and strength to face the prospect of a difficult Christmas? I want to try to bring you a word of encouragement to overcome this loss within your family by grasping the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas traditionally has been celebrated around the concept of Advent; a focused time of recalling the events leading up to the birth of Christ along with a building anticipation of Christ’s future return. Advent is marked by the amazing themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. No matter how difficult this time of year may be, bringing those hard things to God through His Son will lead you to a better place.
May the following perspective and suggestions become your focus this Christmas Season;
AVENT IS HOPE – Hope for a brighter tomorrow, that Jesus cares for all of your needs and restores you completely, giving you courage to press on and move forward! “Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety.” Job 11:18
Engage His hope by stepping out in faith through prayer telling God your needs and asking Him to give you His perspective on the future and to restore your family.
AVENT IS PEACE – Peace amidst the storms of life, Jesus can quiet your soul and bring your mind and heart to rest in Him. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6, 7
Experience His peace as you share with God your needs, hurts and loneliness. Give your whole family situations to Him and trust in Him for harmony and healing, even if you don’t find immediate answers or solutions to your current storm.
ADVENT IS JOY – Joy in our suffering, to know that, when you put Him first in your life, He cares for all your needs and is looking out for your best interests! “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
Choose joy in Him because you know He loves you and has a plan for your life and future! Rest in knowing with Jesus, there is always hope, which brings a deep-seated confidence, a genuine peace and a lasting joy.
ADVENT IS LOVE – His kind of love overcomes all! It restores relationships, it restores your spirit, and it drives out fear! May His love permeate your family more in the days ahead. “Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Ephesians 5:1-2 and “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” 1 John 4:18
First of all, receive God’s Love again yourself. Bask in knowing you are His child and that Christmas was God’s greatest gift of love to us all. Then ask Him to help you live out that love, looking for new approaches to handle your difficult situations His way – the way of love.
As bleak as your situation might seem and as distant as God may feel, take these steps to begin to find the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love that God offers and longs for you to have this Christmas season. It might be good to ask a friend to walk with you through this season to pray with you and strengthen your resolve to do things God’s way. Life’s storms bring hard times – especially when it involves family – and our feelings are up and down. But remember, in the end, God is always faithful. What better time to clarify ‘all you want for Christmas’. You want hope and healing His way.
I’d love to hear from you and how the Christ difference is bringing hope to your life.