SHINE Daily

The Christmas Struggle

Merry Christmas, friends! I had someone snap at me recently when I cheerfully greeted her that way. “Yeah maybe for you it is, but not for me,” she said. My heart sank. Instantly I was filled with compassion for this person who is in a dark place this Christmas season, having experienced loss in her family and grieving deeply.

Don’t you wish that during the Christmas season, everyone could have a break from trouble? Let’s call a cease-fire for the whole world from trials, a truce between all of humanity and our fallen nature, a sweet holiday respite from all the pain and suffering in the world! Who’s in?  

Ahhh….that would be nice. But that is not this world. Jesus told us in this world we will have trouble. Trouble comes to all of us! Even if it’s not your turn right now, eventually it will be.

To be honest, where I am December of 2017, is really happy. I feel momentum in my life, like I’ve been learning so much and growing spiritually. I am grateful, content, inspired, and healthy. Merry Christmas is just bubbling out of me right now. It’s funny how this joyful expression of well-wishing can feel so right and natural when life is good, but when you’re in a season of struggle, even hearing the words “Merry Christmas” can make you feel left out, angry, resentful, unseen…

So how do we reconcile the honest “season” that we are in personally, with the joy that is supposed to be the Christmas season? How do we love well when so many are hurting around us?

This December, I decided to take a “trouble” audit. Part one of this audit, is to take some time to reflect on the people in my life who I know have experienced hard things in the year 2017. Divorce, addiction, depression, loss of a job, loss of a loved one, serious illness, physical challenges, chronic pain, rebellious children, financial hardship, family drama… Quite a list huh? These are just a few of the things I know about that people I love have been going through this year. I know there’s even more that I don’t know about. I had to actually go through my photos, my calendar, and my Facebook timeline to help me remember what people around me have experienced this year.

Part two of this trouble audit is about asking God to show me how I can be an encouragement to the people I know who are in a season of trouble. Is there a note I could write? Is there a call I could make, or maybe an invitation to get together that would mean something special to someone who’s hurting? Is there something I could do to bring them comfort, or just make them laugh? Or maybe there’s something I can do to honor the loss they’ve experienced?

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Some call this the consolation chain. God consoles or comforts us in our trouble so that we can comfort others.

If you’re in a season of trouble, I want you to have hope that God sees you, weeps with you, and He is able to work even this for good. He will never forget or forsake you. Hold on, persevere, and even give God thanks for He loves you so much and He will bring you through. He is doing something for your benefit even now. May He give you the grace to believe and trust Him. Remember Jesus’ words in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world.”

If you’re in a season of joy and peace, celebrate! Enjoy it and thank God for every moment! I want to encourage you to try what I did and take a trouble audit. Not everyone is where you are. Perhaps this Christmas, God wants you to be a comfort to others by intentionally remembering all they have been through and making yourself available to them.

And remember, grace abounds. Don’t be offended when someone snaps at you because you’re cheerful. Cover them. Listen to them. Love them. Remember your turn at trouble will soon come and you will need the understanding and comfort of others.

Merry Christmas! May Jesus be more real to you this season than ever before, whatever season you’re in.