Hope for the Holidays

by Bonnie Scasta, Women’s Ministry Director

The holidays are said to be the most wonderful time of the year. And for many, there is magic and wonder all around.

For others that are impacted by sexual and relational brokenness, however, the holidays are filled with pain and loss. This time of year—traditionally filled with merriment and spent with loved ones—is instead lonely and quiet. Because of deep family divisions, unmet expectations, cruel words, and/or being forgotten, the celebration of Our Promised Savior is often over shadowed by sorrow and deep despair.

Though families may be broken, wounds run deep, expectations are repeatedly crushed, and people who should come through continue to fail, there is hope to be found this holiday season!

As we approach Christmas, keep these three truths close to your heart:

God sees and cares about your pain.

Grief and loss have very little place in our culture. We are often taught through our experiences, in particularly the reactions of those closest to us, that our pain is to be shoved aside and hidden.  We believe the lie that there is no space or time to be sad over the broken things in our life or our family.

However, over and over again we see in scripture that God sees and hears the cries of his people in pain (Ex 2:23-25).  He is not asking you to shut it down, avoid it, or act like everything is ok.  Instead, God is asking you to bring even the most painful things to him. When we do, we can be confident that just as Jesus wept over the loss of his friend, he will weep with us as well.
“And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” – Ex. 2:24-25

God is near to the brokenhearted.

Not only does God care about our pain, he is near to it.  His presence makes all the difference (Ex. 33:3-4).  If you are brokenhearted over the loss of a relationship, over the strife between you and a loved one, at the consequences of your own sin, or for any other reason, God is near.  Ask him to reveal his special nearness through these difficult circumstances and believe that you are not alone, regardless of how alone you may feel.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” – Ps 34:18

There are no hopeless situations.

Jesus himself was raised from the dead.  He is in the very business of bringing dead things to life.  The disciples thought all was lost after Jesus was crucified and many returned to their old lives or hid scared.  Jesus, however, had other plans and it changed history.  He came to set the captives free, bind those that are brokenhearted, and bring gladness to those who mourn.  Set your hope on Him and see what he does!

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” –  Is 61:1-3

Be encouraged that no matter what ashes you may be mourning, our savior has gladness and beauty to come.   As you take your pain, sorrow, or loneliness to Him and rest in his deep, abiding love that is near, there is great hope regardless of what the days ahead hold.