November and December are known for the big holidays. It seems like before Halloween has even concluded, the world is looking ahead to Thanksgiving. Yet, before Thanksgiving has even arrived, radio stations are playing Christmas music. What’s more, retail stores are stocked with decorations months in advance. It’s no wonder why our minds are consumed with family “get togethers” and shopping for that special loved one.
Growing up, this season always excited me. I came from a large (and very close) family, so we were always surrounded by love and laughter. Although my mind is filled with joy as I recall these memories and excitement, I know that for many, these seasons can be difficult.
Although the holidays are typically a time of glee, they can also be times of the greatest hurt. Holidays have a way of resurfacing old pains and magnifying current ones. It is in these seasons that we are often reminded of what is missing. Maybe it’s a loved one that has passed or separation from others. Perhaps the holidays are a time when some are reminded how much they lack financially and the inability to provide gifts for their loved ones. While we may experience joy and happiness, let us be mindful that others may be struggling with loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
This leads me to ask three questions: how in a season of so many emotions, can we glorify Christ? How can we come along side others and point them to hope found in Christ? And, how can we love others well in the holiday seasons?
Glorifying Christ through Thankfulness
First, I think we can give thanks to God for the things we have. If you are a Christian, you can express gratitude for your salvation that is found in Christ. When we reflect on the gospel, our hearts should be filled with joy. When we look back on our salvation, we should express thanks that our ultimate need was provided by and met in Christ Jesus. May the gospel be the anchor of our souls in the darkest of nights.
We give thanks to God for our family. If we have lost loved ones, then let us thank God for the joy of precious memories. Memories can be God’s gracious way of reminding us of His precious gifts to us. May we remember the moments God blessed us with those individuals and thank Him for them. We can give thanks for the items we have: our homes, food, jobs, and transportation. We so often take for granted the little things we have, and it is beneficial for our souls to think through what all God has provided for us. Even if you are homeless, jobless, or financially destitute, you can thank God for the breath you have in your lungs. There is always a reason to be thankful.
Helping Others through Hospitality
As noted earlier, many people experience depression and loneliness through the holiday season. Friends, we should do everything we can to lessen the burdens upon our loved one’s shoulders. If we know of family and friends who will be spending the holiday season alone, we should be quick to invite them over. Let go of the idea of “family time” and open up your doors for the widows, poor, and orphans. Make extra food and be willing to love on those who need it most. Love those who need Jesus. Perhaps a hospitable heart can be an opening for someone to come to know Christ.
While living in New England we (my family) have come to cherish hospitality. We have given Christmas presents to young boys on Christmas day when they knocked on our doors to shovel the snow. We have been able to bless families in our church with Christmas presents for their kids and turkeys for them to eat. I remember our first Christmas here, I wrapped more presents for those kids than I did for our family, and it was such a joy. We have hosted thanksgiving and Christmas day dinners for people who have no family close by and for those who are alone. I don’t list these examples to exalt our family, but to encourage you. We still can do better and more. Do these things take sacrifice on our family? Yes. Is it worth it? A thousand times yes. Showing others grace and love is what we are called to do as Christians. We are like Christ when we are sacrificially loving others.
Loving Others through Gospel Encouragement
Lastly, I would say we must encourage each other in the truth found in the gospel. This is a daily act we must work on, and the holiday season is no exception. Whether someone is struggling from losing a loved one, financial hardships, relationship strife, or any other issue, may we be a people that consistently point to the hope found in the gospel.
We know that the Gospel has the power to bring joy. It is because of Christ that we have been reconciled to the Father. It is because of the resurrection that those of us in Christ will one day be welcomed into glory. It is because of the gospel that we can live with hope.
In the book of Lamentations, Jeremiah says,
“My soul continuously remembers it [the affliction] and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will trust in Him.”-
Jeremiah is struggling. There’s no doubt about it. He is depressed and sorrowful. However, what gets Him through is remembering the truth of God’s character. His theology is the basis for his hope. May we be reminded of the hope found in the gospel and may we be quick to share that hope with others. When we are around others, let’s consider how we can stir them up with gospel truths.
Holiday seasons can be such a joyous time. May we find our reason to be thankful in Christ and may we be quick to love and encourage others, not only through the holiday season, but every day.
Soli Deo Gloria
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