Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:2-4 NKJV
It's the most wonderful time of the year...well, it's supposed to be anyway. It can be a very painful time of year. It can be a time of sorrow, of loneliness, and of depression. Yes, it is the season when we pause to thank God for HIs blessings and a time to rejoice for the giving of the greatest gift that was ever given. But there are people who are hurting. There are people that are facing struggles in their lives that they have no idea how to face, much less survive.
I have always loved this time of year. I never understood how anyone could be depressed or sad during this holiday season of family, thanksgiving, and celebration of the birth of Christ. And here I am at the close of the year 2013, and I understand. I find myself in a place I have never been before. I find myself stripped of who I thought I was and left to figure out who He means for me to be. I find myself in a place of not feeling completely safe anywhere, at least not safe enough to bare my heart. I have lost trust in many, and find myself truly alone with some things known only to God. The girl who loves Christmas and puts up too many trees, doesn't care if she has even one. I am broken.
So what does a Jesus girl do when she feels this way yet knows that this season was made to celebrate Him? She sits up until two in the morning, cradled in her Daddy's lap, and cries. She reminds Him how she once loved this season so dearly. She reminds Him of what He has taken and what He has allowed Satan to take. She reminds Him that she has tried to live for Him, and yet He seems to have forgotten all that. She reminds Him that she can only take so much and yet the arrows continue from all directions . Then she cries some more and she remembers that there is nothing she can do to be good enough to deserve even a look in her direction from the Most High God, She remembers that God gives and He takes away. She remembers that Satan is real and powerful and that God allows human choice and human love is not like God love. She remembers that the Bible promises that Satan will make things difficult for someone determined to serve her God, and so she stops crying long enough to pray for a hedge of protection around her children to shield them from Satan's attack, to at least give them some time to heal. She prays that she herself can protect them in her own strength in some ways, while praying for God's protection in all areas of their lives.
And then He speaks....quietly and tenderly. He whispers 2 Corinthians 1:2-4. He reminds me that He is my God, the God of all comfort. He whispers that He has always been there for me and that He will continue to be my Hope and Strength. He then whispers that I will be comforted and am required to comfort others with the same comfort that He has given me. He reminds me that this year of loss, this year of hurt and confusion, this year of unexplainable loneliness, has taught me many things. He reminds me of His strong arms that held me through each and every heartache. And then He tells me to take what I have learned and give to others the comfort and love that I so want for myself. He encourages me to look around me....really look around me and see the pain. He wants me to see those who are lonely. He wants me to see those who are suffering the loss of a loved one this holiday season. He wants me to see the abused and hurting child. He wants me to reach out to the wife who feels alone and to the one who has been left alone. He wants me to love the widow and the elderly. He wants me to notice the woman who is just struggling to keep her head above the water, and the one who seems to have it all, but knows that she is coming apart.
And so what did I learn? I learned that my Father wants me to give what I need. I learned that my own healing may come from my trying to help others to heal. And so in the wee hours of the morning, I made a commitment to the God who formed the universe and who dries my tears. This holiday season will be the year of 100 gifts. Not the ones already on my list, but other gifts to other people, some who would never find themselves on my Christmas list. Not necessarily a physical gift, but probably in some form. A gift to someone who is hurting or experiencing a stressful time. A gift that says I'm thinking about you or you are in my prayers. A gift that says God loves you and I am glad that you are in my life. A gift of comfort. friendship, and kindness.
And so I face this holiday season with its insecurities and pain. I am determined that I will celebrate this wonderful time of year. I will not let Satan rob me of its joy. Yes, it's been the hardest year of my life. But I serve a God who loves me and cherishes me, and during this season of remembrance of His blessings I will celebrate even among the tears. This will be the year of 100 gifts as I celebrate the greatest Gift of all.