“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” as the song goes, until it’s not.
Whether there is an empty seat at the table, too much financial pressure, a family conflict, a job change, or a big move, life has a way of creating more drama during the holidays.
At any time of year, we experience a mixture of bitter and sweet, but the holidays seem to accentuate the tartness of life. Tensions are high; expectations are even higher. The story unfolds for each individual uniquely, but the challenges are no less legitimate. Let’s remember that someone else’s intense pain does not mean you don’t have permission to face your own battles, to face your own pain. Stuffing the struggles down will not make them go away. If you do, you are ensuring an explosion or an implosion at a later date, probably detonating sooner than you’d like.
One of my favorite scriptures gives us two encouragements for when the holidays are hard. Don’t gloss over it because of its familiarity.
Hebrews 13:5b says: “I will never leave you.” In other words, God is saying:
1. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“I’m with you. You aren’t alone in the joy and in the pain. I am still here whether you feel me or not. I haven’t left you.” – God
Amidst it all, wherever you find yourself, in whatever season of celebration or struggle—He is here. One of my favorite names for God is Emmanuel because it means “God with us.” It’s a simple truth with a force that can change our perspective and bring comfort in the hardest of seasons. He wants to walk with you through this season, not simply help you avoid the pain.
Then Hebrews 13:5b continues: “Nor forsake you.” In other words, God is saying:
2. “I’m not loosening my grip on you.”
“I haven’t and I will not abandon you in your time of need—EVER. We are going together into every situation you face and I’m not going to make you handle this on your own.” – God
Just before this promise, the writer of Hebrews challenges readers to avoid the love of money and to be content with what they have. If any season tempts us in these areas, it’s this time of year. The ads, the movies, the decorations, it’s everywhere! Our focus can be on consuming and accumulating too easily.
When you start thinking of all your have-nots this holiday season, remember His presence brings more than you could imagine. Today, can you take a few moments to ponder the gift of His constant presence in your life, specifically in your current circumstances? He gives freely and abundantly:
- His immense, unchanging love for you—no matter how much of a brat you can be.
- His peace that surpasses your understanding of the why’s of life—even though you are prone to anxious thoughts.
- His joy that gives strength to face another day—no matter how many tears you’ve shed.
- His compassion that brings comfort—especially on your worst days.
We may be missing something or someone this season, but my prayer is that your Emmanuel, God with YOU, will be your strong, peace-filled refuge. May you bask in the richness of His continual presence in your daily life and receive what He already promised. He will not to loosen His grip on you.