As I was shopping for my items for our shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child, tears came to my eyes. I thought of the kids of Haiti and how little they have and how spoiled I am. As Americans we are so amazingly blessed materially but forget to be grateful and give back. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; Luke 12:48
But there was another reason tears came to my eyes. The holiday season is difficult. It is for so many-I am one of them. Years ago, my father had a terrible stroke at a Sunday School Christmas party that changed everything. Since then I struggle with joy during this obvious season of joy. I am not alone.
If you just watched people’s social media posts, you would believe everyone is happy but you. I can lead you to believe that also. And I am amazingly blessed, but because of confidences and privacy, I don’t share all the pain. Every Christmas my mind goes back to a dark time, the one that makes me wish the holiday season would pass on by. If you have read this far, I am betting you know how that feels.
As a teacher, I have spent time the past couple of weeks listening to my kids as their hearts are breaking. Some of my students would say that they do not want to go home, and I would venture to guess that seeing family for the holidays is not high on their list of anticipated activities. I have heard more than once recently that the kids do not want to be the parents but feel like they must. Parents are in bondage to the enemy and all his traps and breaking those chains is difficult and impossible without Christ.
My heart breaks for a couple of families that have suffered the loss of a husband and father, and now the thought of Christmas without that loved one must be terrifying. Some would say that they are living their worst nightmare right now. I recently learned that tragedy struck the family from whom we bought our house. As I think of them living here previous to us, I can’t help but think of how they must long for a happier time, possibly when they lived in our house. My heart aches for them.
So, what do we do? Are we without hope? No.
Christmas is about hope. I needed Jesus to save me for all eternity, but I need Him to save me today, and He can. I must call out to Him, however weak the call may be.
“Oh, God, help us see the joy because of the birth of a Savior.”
I have found that as I choose how to celebrate, I can dictate a possible return of joy. See if any of these ideas help:
*The Thanksgiving previous to dad’s stroke, I clearly remember God’s still small voice saying to be thankful. Look around the dinner table and enjoy. This will not always be the way it is. That very Christmas tragedy struck. Be thankful, even in the direst of situations. Raise your head and look around. There are hurting people everywhere. How can you be light in darkness?
*Give back. The picture that goes with this post is of Toms’s shoes arriving in Haiti. They promise that for every pair of shoes that you buy, they provide shoes for a kid in another country. We were there on mission when the truck arrived, delivering shoes to kids who have no way to otherwise get them. They also can’t attend school without a proper uniform which includes shoes.
*Mamas, consider teaching your children to spend and ask for less, but use those financial resources to help those in need in other countries. How about buying clean drinking water or chickens for someone who needs to eat? Consider this link and the awesome opportunity to help in ways that can change the world, literally.
Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog
“Jesus, we need you. We need your healing power. We need you to do something only you can do this holiday season. Help us heavenly Father, to be grateful even in our moments of deep despair. Help us to raise our heads and look around. When it comes to hurting, we are not the only ones. Give us the mind and heart and eyes of Christ so that we can see those who need our help. We thank you for a baby and a cross. Thank you that you saved me from Hell but that you save me everyday as I have committed to make you Lord of it all.”
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Luke 2:10