Jump Start # 2492
Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
Christmas is getting close. Children are getting excited. Adults are burning the midnight candle to get everything ready. Some will be traveling. Some will be hosting. It’s a time of happiness, joy and fun. There will be presents to be opened, good food to be eaten and memories to be made. Homes are decorated. Cookies have been made. Hopefully shopping is nearly finished. The holiday season is great times, that is for most.
The holidays can also be very painful for some. It’s easy to overlook the heartache that some are going through. Suicides are higher around the holiday season than the rest of the year. And, even among the people of God, the holiday season can be a long struggle of tears and pain.
There are those who are going through their first holiday without a family member being with them. There has been a death. Now, a chair is empty. There are so many memories that the holidays just do not seem the same without this person. There is a sadness, even at this joyous season.
For others, there has been a divorce. The kids are visiting the “ex” on the holidays. Things just do not seem right, normal or fair. Holidays can be very lonely. All the movies surround family and doing things together. For some, they will be all alone during the holidays. There is no family or the family is estranged from each other. The season puts them in a bad mood. And, for those without a spiritual anchor, the holidays are an excuse to drink excessively.
Our passage connects us to one another in a congregation. There are those who are rejoicing. Don’t be jealous, rejoice with them. There are those who are weeping. Don’t ignore them. Be with them. Encourage them. Weep with them. It is very possible to have rejoicing and weeping going on at the same time. Some are happy. Some are miserable. Some have family all around them. Some are alone.
First, give thought to those who are going through their first holiday season after a death or a divorce. Drop them a card. Invite them over. Get them a gift. Let them know that they are not forgotten. This may be something that shepherds need to keep a keen eye on. There may be some folks who are hurting and could use some help, emotionally as well as spiritually.
Second, don’t add to your misery. There are things you can do to help you and there are things you can do to make yourself feel worse. Don’t isolate yourself from others. Get out to worship. You need this. You may have to force yourself to do things that you do not feel like doing, like being around others. But getting out of the house, being around others has a way of taking your mind off of your sorrow and it can actually lift your spirits.
Third, find a way to help others. If you are alone, don’t be alone. There are wonderful ways to help others who are less fortunate than you are. Helping others often helps us. Look around in your neighborhood, place of work, even within the congregation and find those you can do something for. Put your energies into serving others rather than feeling bad for yourself.
Fourth, realize that you are not really alone. God is with you. He has been with you through this whole year. Be thankful to God for what you have been able to enjoy and what the Lord has given you. Your faith will provide a strength that you didn’t even know that you have. It’s ok to laugh again. It’s ok to be with friends. Don’t feel like you must be miserable because of the circumstances.
Fifth, keep your eye open for those who are hurting. You understand more than anyone what they are going through. You know what works and what doesn’t work. You can be an example and a help for others. You might see someone sitting alone in worship. You can ask if you can join them. You can ask if they would like to go out to eat with you afterwards. Through your pain, you can help someone else. You can make the pathway easier for them.
Finally, remember the holidays pass. The wrapping paper will be thrown in the trash. The cookies will all be eaten. All the decorations will be put in boxes until next year. Children will be back to school. Adults will be back to work. Life tends to go on.
The holidays for those who are grieving, can be like a surgery. At first, it just hurts. You know in time it will be better, but there is no fast forwarding. It takes time. This time can bring you much closer to the Lord and others. Allow yourself to heal. In time, it won’t hurt as much. There are others who would love to help you, be with you and give you things. Allow them to do this. It’s good for them and it’s good for you.
We sing a song that asks, “Does Jesus care when I’ve said goodbye to the dearest on earth to me, and my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks, is it aught to Him? Does He see?” And, the chorus, answers the question. It loudly says, “O yes, He cares, I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief. When the days are weary, the long night dreary, I know my Savior cares.” I know. I know my Savior cares!
And, so does God’s people. You’ll get though this, with the Lord’s help.