But for some of you, the holidays are not so joyful right now are they? For you, this may be a sad or lonely season. Or perhaps you don't have much in the way of blessings.
Has this year been one of trial? Do you dread the thought of family tension, or lack of funds at the next family get together. Or perhaps your year has been one of difficulty after difficulty. Perhaps you or someone you love is ill or even gone.
I do not know where my post today will find you, Friend, but I do have one suggestion that might make your holidays a little more bearable.
I'd like to help you have a little holiday cheer too. :)
The first thing I'd suggest is simply this. In the midst of your bad things.. can you thank God for just one good thing?
When my husband had cancer, the baby had club foot, and we were facing $100,000 dollars of medical debt, the cps was making 'friendly 'visits to our house over concern for our home birth (while we were homeschooling in a seriously unfriendly state to homeschoolers), and we were driving our dilapidated 79 pontiac station wagon, facing no medical insurance, and unsure from day to day whether Tim would get fired or not due to the effects of chemotheraphy....
No, our holidays did not feel too cheerful.
I remember sitting in the livingroom, feeling as if all the joy of Thanksgiving and Christmas, was just gone. How does one celebrate in such a state as that?
How I wanted 'normal' back. I ached for it. Yet that was not the 'cup' the Lord had given us to drink from that year.
The one thing I recall most was that we had to focus on the good that was there--our children's shining faces, Tim's prognosis helped (95% cure rate), that we could still homeschool, that God was there and that He loved us. We learned to walk by faith that year.
Where misery abounds, God's grace abounds more.
He is there when we suffer and He cares about you.
Holidays (Holy days) are truly about God and not so much about us. We have one thing we can thank God for.. and that is that He always cares for us and will never let us go.
He asks us to turn to Him in our darkest hour and he will bring back joy.
What if there was no God? That would be very bad. But He is there and he does love us and He will get you through! I promise that.
Count your blessings today. Find at least one.
It's so hard when we suffer trials and that can spoil the joy, but He will carry you through them. Holidays are days to thank the Lord for gifts that cannot be taken away.
Of all the people who can truly understand the true meaning of a holiday--those who suffer can. Because the temporal things that can be removed from our lives don't cloud the true meaning.
Our first Christmas as a married couple, was in a two room married student housing unit. We had a toddler because I had been an unwed mother when I met my young husband at a little church--five months pregnant.
He made $5.00 per hour! Yes.. and he wanted me to stay home to take care of little Matthew.
That Christmas I did crossstitch the whole first year, as cheaply as possible.. mostly just bible verses. We framed them. I also made jars of grape jelly (don't need a pressure cooker) and I collected baby food jars and made construction paper silhouettes for tea candles to shine through. It was either that or have nothing to give our relatives for Christmas.
I am certain that at least a couple were not impressed with our meagre gifts. But I was so happy making and giving them. :) It was the best Christmas ever! We had only a nativity set.. no lights, no tree and I don't remember any turkeys. But how happy we were in each other! :)
We counted the blessings we had and thanked God for those we didn't.
Yes, that's the 2nd step. Thank God for the bad things too! That year in Florida, when Tim had no insurance and cancer, we had lost an important job right before the move. It would have given us $3000.00 to pay for a midwife after getting to Florida. We didn't know he would get cancer or that his company would fail to add him to the insurance policy in time.
I remember the day Tim told me that his last attempt to finish a job that would have earned him the money had fallen through. The program crashed. The moving truck was packed. He delivered our baby via instructions from the midwife over the speaker phone two months later.
But that night, I hung up the phone.. and I was certain the Lord said--thank me. So I did.. through the tears and the uncertainty.. I offered a sacrifice of praise and thanked him for the 'bad news'.
12 months to the day later I found out WHY God wanted me to thank him and trust him. If we had made $3,000.00 more in that 12 month period than we did.. we would not have qualified to have $100,000.00 of medical bills written off. Yes--God knew what we did not--that we should thank him for everything... even the bad.
If you are dreading the holidays because of financial lack, distress, grief, burdens, family contention.. whatever it might be...
Come to Jesus.. and ask Him to help you. Look to Him for your joy.
As the Dr. Suess's Whoville learned, Christmas doesn't come in packages or bags..
Don't let circumstances 'steal your joy'. We can always find something to be thankful for.
And if you want real joy, thank Him for the bad things because...
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Praying you will see a little light in your dark world.. if that world is dark today. :)
With much love,
PS. Here's the link to the Walnut-Streussel coffee cake I made. It's a Taste of Home recipe. :) Frugal and delicious!
Links that might help you if you're struggling...
The Sacredness of Circumstances
Faith vs. Facts
When God Says, Not Yet
God Grieves With Us
Why Bad Things Happen (sometimes)
Suffering that Honors God