Tis the holiday season...this time of year can cause an array of emotions and thoughts. Family gatherings, buying presents, travelling and just generally trying to keep your sanity. So I thought I'd share a reflection for the season adapted from an email I just got from a friend.
I don't know what you each will face in the comign weeks but I do know that holidays are not necessarily easy for everyone. Perhaps you are far away from the people you really love or stuck spending the holidays with the very people you need a break from. Or maybe you are reminded of those who are no longer with you or you might be torn up by hurtful memories of past holidays that didn't go so well.
It can be very easy for us to paint a picture of the holidays as being a happy time where everyone gets along and all is well. The problem is that for a lot of us the holidays are hard. They are harsh reminders of missing loved ones, childhood wounds that have never fully healed, and a sense of hopelessness that you're too embarrassed to talk about. After all, we are Christians, we are people of hope.
Well, not every story has a happy ending and we need to guard against being well-meaning Christians that share their stories of victory with absolutely no sensitivity to those who are on a long, hard, painful path toward healing and redemption.
Jesus had a unique ability to look into the hearts of people who were struggling and wrestling with big issues (the woman at the well, the rich young ruler, Zacchaeus, parents whose children had died, beggars, lepers, prostitutes, and on and on). Rarely did He offer a lecture or a pep talk. I'm convinced that He let His eyes do most of the talking and that people sensed His love, support, grace and encouragement as He looked into the eyes of every unique and delicate situation.
I hope you have had a near perfect and problem-free life and that the holidays are the best time of the year for you. But, if you don't fall into this camp I'd give anything right now to be able to give you a giant bear hug, look you in the eyes and let you know how much I care personally and how much God cares. Regardless of the source of your pain, know that I love you and care very deeply about your pain, and if I could, I would even try to move a mountain to help.
For the rest of us, if you know someone who carries deep burdens, especially during the holiday season, don't tell them not to lose hope or about your uncle's cousin's kid who is going through the same thing they are going through, just love them and be Jesus to them.
Have a wonderful Christmas season - whatever your plans might be.