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When Life is Difficult During the Holidays

God is always there to heal the broken heart, for real joy is found in a vital relationship with Him.

By Barbara Rainey

As the holiday season approaches, blogs always ooze with enthusiasm, emotion, and eager anticipation. Descriptions of fireplaces and hot cocoa, plaids and sequins, lights and laughter are so vivid they feel like an attempt to scatter glitter from every screen. Be warm, be filled, be happy. Let the dazzling delights of the season satisfy.

But for many people the holiday sparkles only magnify our loneliness. Our losses.

A few years ago I felt a cloud of discouragement over my world during autumn. For one thing, I had a friend whose son and daughter-in-law were divorcing. Their situation was unbelievably complicated by a beyond-healing medical condition. I wondered how my friend could find joy in the holiday season.

My daughter had lots of friends, godly young women, who yearned to be married but were still waiting for God to answer their prayers. Yes, they knew marriage was not the answer for all, but they also knew Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The ever-present images of happy children opening Christmas with ever-smiling moms and dads was a constant reminder to these delightful young women of their aloneness.

Another young friend that year went through the holiday season knowing her unborn baby had a heart defect.

That year seemed particularly difficult, yet it always seems our prayer list of dear friends, family members, and many acquaintances is littered with challenging medical issues and broken relationships. Where do we find joy in this season and beyond?

In God alone

One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 33:6: “And he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.” No matter the current national or world crisis, and though our eyes constantly look for the outward to satisfy, to fill us, to bring us joy, it is only found within.

King David wrote, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Psalm 51:12). He knew the source was in God alone.

Joni Eareckson Tada gives me the perspective I need. Since a diving accident in 1967, she has been bound to a wheelchair and to the constant need of others caring for her physical needs.

She said in an interview, “In the morning when I wake up, I know they’ll be coming into my bedroom to give me a bed bath, to do my toileting routines, pull up my pants, put me in the wheelchair, feed me my breakfast, and push me out the front door. I lie there thinking, Oh God, I cannot face this. I’m so tired of this routine. I don’t know how I’m going to make it to lunchtime. But I can do all things through You as You strengthen me. Can I please borrow Your smile? I need it.

Do you tear up just reading those words? I do. Do you shake your head incredulously at her impossible-to-comprehend circumstances? I do. And I marvel.

She went on to say, “I make myself be happy. I make myself sing because I have to. I choose the Holy Spirit’s help because I don’t want to go down that grim, dark path to depression anymore. Cast yourself at the mercy of God and let Him show up through your weaknesses because that is what He promises.”

Where joy is found

Joni’s faith stuns me. But God eagerly waits to meet us when we come with our losses and broken hearts to His welcoming embrace. That is where joy is found in the holiday season—in a real, vital, alive relationship with Jesus Christ, who willingly shrunk His deity to a single cell to then be born on Christmas Day for our sake.

Come to Him. Give Him your broken heart. Adore Him always as Christ the Lord. Then sing for joy that He has not abandoned us. Not for a moment will He forsake thee or me!

Copyright © by FamilyLife. Used with permission.

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