I wrote this a week ago and was just posting it when my friend’s message on Facebook came on about a shooting at her son’s school. I posted not knowing the extent. Her son was ok, but praying for her family and the community as they mourn.
For some Christmas is a magical time full of joy and hope. For others it is a difficult and heartbreaking time.
Some Christmas seasons find us needing more hope than others. I entered this holiday season in the midst of great transition. Some of my own choosing, others not. For the first time in my adult life I really was just too tired to care or to have passion. Which is not ideal when you are single and sole provider! In the quiet of the fall days I found new passion and strength. Sometimes, we just need a rest.
Then the holidays arrived. I love the Christmas season. Though Thanksgiving is always my favorite I love the trees, the lights, the cold weather. I love the traditions I have built with family and friends. They are like a warm sweater on a cool night. But this year has been less merry and bright.I have so much to be thankful about, but the year has been hard. As I looked around I started seeing the need all around me.
Frank Pastore, a business friend and someone I listened to on my drive home from work, was in a serious accident. He suffered head trauma and has been in a coma. His family and the thousands of listeners who also tuned in are praying for a miracle. We are praying he wakes up.
As I am writing this a blogger friend is asking for prayer, there is a shooting at her son’s elementary school. She just wrote this he is ok!
I woke up a few days ago to see that a childhood friends stepson, was the college boy missing in Arizona. They are their searching, praying for a miracle.
Three people from my childhood have died in the last two weeks. Though they were older and not really unexpected, they were each someone’s mom or dad, grandma and grandpa. They have lost an important part of their family right before the holidays.
Friends launching business, friends struggling with businesses, the economy has caught up with so many. Here in Southern California, where I live, the struggles in life can stand in stark contrast the wealth and opulence that sits on our coasts and in our hills. The stores beckoning with everything we didn’t even know we wanted.
How do we frame it. How do we not become The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. How do we come alongside those we care about when the holidays are far from jolly? How do we keep focused on what really matters and become a light to those in need?
Gratefully, our stories don’t end there. God is faithful. God is good all the time. I chose the word Believe this year as my one word. I started 2012 believing for specific things but I am ending the year believing in different ways. Life changing belief that God is with us in the good and the bad.
Belief that God does still do miracles. I pray Frank wakes up, that God would heal him. BUT, even if he doesn’t, God is good and will use this for his glory.
- I believe that God comforts those who mourn. He says “Rejoice with those who rejoice; Mourn with those who mourn”
- I believe that God is our provider and I am cultivating gratitude. I am choosing to see the three ways he was faithful the day before. I am shifting my expectations and trying to extend grace to those struggling.
- I am drinking in the excitement of my niece and nephews towards the holidays. We are baking, watching cheesy Christmas movies and taking trips to see the beauty of Christmas. When we returned from our annual trip to Fashion Island to see the largest Christmas tree and the beautiful lights, my sweet nephew said “Do you want to watch a cheesy Christmas movie, Aunt Cheri?” Really, those are the little moments in life to cherish. We all huddled together in the family room to watch the “The Mistletoes”. Don’t judge me. Sorry, ABC to call them cheesy.
Believing is a choice. Joy is a choice not a feeling. Offering hope to those hurting can get lost in the busyness of our own lives. Schedule some time in your calendar this month to do something for someone in your life that needs encouragement this Christmas season. Here are tangible ways to come alongside those hurting this season:
1. Pray – Praying sometimes seems like it is not enough, but it is the signficant thing we can do. I invite you to pray alongside me for Frank and his family. It is lonely and heartbreaking to sit in a hospital room during the holidays. While they are trusting God’s will, they are asking people to pray specifically for Frank to wake up from his coma.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
2. Listen – Simply listen and don’t try to fix it. So hard for us type a’s or those with a tendency to rescue. Let them talk and process how they are feeling. I remember the friends who showed up when my Dad was in the hospital and sat next to me.
3. Random Acts of Kindess – Drop off a meal, show up with a cup of coffee or cocoa. Give a single mom or parents a needed break by babysitting. Offer to run errands.
4. Let Them Know You Care – Send notes of encouragement, email, leave verses on facebook, voicemails of love. If you listen to Frank’s show and want to send a note of love and encouragement to his family you can send them to P.O. Box 29023, Glendale, CA 91209
5. Share – Share your story and how Jesus offers hope and peace.
If you are hurting and are in need of prayer email me with your request! and I will pray for you this season.
What are ways you have found to offer hope to those who need it this year? Share in the comments below.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.