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Hope for the Holidays, Even When They Hurt

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Dr. Meg Meeker

Christmas is a joyous but also painful time for many. Perhaps on this Christmas Eve you wish you could “hide” Christmas—its ability to bring up every difficult and sad circumstance in your life causes many people to want to get the holidays over with rather than enjoy them.

Christmas is a joyous but also painful time for many. 

My nurse just told me that she wasn’t sure if she was going to put up her Christmas tree because it reminded her of her husband who recently died of cancer. Another young woman in our office is grieving her baby boy’s diagnosis of eye tumors. Over the holiday, she will bring him to the hospital for eye surgery and pray for him not to lose his sight.

What is it about Christmas that makes us so sad?

When we see delight around us, we are reminded of what we don’t have. I ache for my mother and father at Christmas. Christmas day was my father’s favorite day of the year, and he spent months thinking of unique gifts for each of us. My mother decorated every nook and cranny of our home. I see the look on their faces when we came down Christmas morning. I see my nephew sitting on my dad’s lap.

We ache for what we have no more, and we mourn what we never had—these are the roots of sadness at Christmas.

So what do you do when Christmas is more painful than joyful? I have two suggestions.

Reach out to friends or family.

This isn’t the time to be alone. Reach out to someone you could talk to or spend a few hours with. If you don’t want to have anyone over to your house, ask if you can go to theirs or if you could meet for coffee. Let them know how you’re doing. The only person who knows what you’re feeling is you. So be an advocate for yourself and ask for help.

Reach out to God.

Even though Christmas can bring out a lot of pain, Christmas is also the answer to that pain.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I have a strong faith. I don’t always talk about it so openly, but I believe that God is real and that he sent himself in the person of his son Jesus to communicate his love to you and to me. This is the message of Christmas. And this is why Christmas, the season that causes so much pain to surface, is also what can be the greatest healer of that pain.

Even though Christmas can bring out a lot of pain, Christmas itself is also the answer to that pain. 

There are not many sure truths in this world, but these are the most important and profound truths you could ever know: God is real. Jesus Christ is real. And he wants to let you know this very minute how very much he loves you.

If you are depressed or grieving. If you feel alone and isolated and like no one else feels the way you do, I want you to know these truths today. You are loved. You are worthy, and your life is worth living. It may not feel that way right now, but it is true.

You may be wondering, “What do I need to do to feel that love?” Open your heart, begin to talk to God as you never have before. It’s very simple. When we’re in our most desperate times, that’s when we go to God and need him most. Friends, do it. That’s what Christmas is all about.

This Christmas, open your heart and invite God into your pain. That’s where he does his best work.

God has life for you. He has plans and an unfathomable, never-ending love for you. Hold on and look up. If you’re hurting this Christmas, open your heart and invite the Christ of Christmas into your pain. He’s really good at showing up in uncomfortable, unlikely places. That’s often where he does his best work.

Merry Christmas, friends!

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