Christmas can be a difficult time for a variety of reasons—grief often a major one. Missing my daughter is at the top of my list. Most of you, whether young or old, probably miss someone in your family or circle of friends.
After my daughter died a few years ago, Christmas was unbearable. It was all I could do to drag through the month of December, often finding myself on my knees, literally and figuratively, begging God to just “get me through it.” I thought if I heard Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas one more time I would scream.
Grief and merriment do not coexist peacefully. The only peace I could get—the only way I could “get through” was to remember God’s faithfulness before my loss, lean on it, and apply those experiences to my grief. His presence and comfort had sustained me years before after my sister’s death—and through many valleys in my life. When sleep didn’t come, I’d turn my thoughts to memorized Scripture and prayer to soothe my tortured mind and soul.
Similarly, the Bible is full of stories of God’s faithfulness when life seemed hopeless.
When Jehoshaphat, an ancient king of Judah, faced war, he prayed for God’s help. He started his prayer praising God’s greatness and then listed past blessings on the Jewish people.
“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God
who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and
might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our
God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people
Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have
built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If
calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we
will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will
cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ 2 Chronicles 20:6-9 NIV
If calamity comes upon us…
Grief is the ultimate calamity. Jehoshaphat’s prayer is spot on. How many times did I cry out in distress and God heard me? I felt his physical presence as if He were cradling me in His arms and brushing my tears away. This comfort gave me strength to get through another day.
Now as I face another Christmas without my daughter, God has filled me with His peace and provided encouragement through His Word and through friends and family. No matter how bad life gets, God hears and saves. The Apostle Paul testified to this in the following passage:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
We have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…
“…This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s…You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” 2 Chronicles 20:15-17
Whether Jehoshaphat, Jeremiah, or the Apostle Paul, all great men of the Bible experienced grief and adversity in varying degrees. They knew that the ability to stand in that adversity rested in God’s peace and assurance of His help. This was vital in “getting through” their present trials. They took courage in the promises the Lord made, which strengthened them to face tomorrow.
The Lord will be with you.
This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…” Jeremiah 6:16
Are you at a crossroads? Maybe you’re engaged in a full-on battle. Or trying to “get through” the holidays in your grief.
· Seek the ancient paths – Study Scripture, seek out a wise elder in your church or family, or perhaps someone who has been in a similar situation. Memorize Scripture for those agonizing sleepless nights.
· Ask where the good way is – Pray! The Apostle Paul said pray without ceasing. He learned God’s constant presence was a must to face his adversities. When you combine prayer with Bible study, you will experience the peace that God can give.
…and you will find rest for your souls.
Remember the Lord’s faithfulness to you in the past. Cling to God’s promises, as you pray for strength in your discouragement. You can be as sure of His presence and comfort as the old Bible greats were.
…my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:20-23
How may I pray for you today? Feel free to leave a request in the comments below. Also, please share any Bible verses that have comforted you during adversity or grief. I’d love to hear from you.
Enjoy these three free gifts.
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While I’m Waiting is adapted from some of the author’s blog devotions, appearing for the first time as a collection. This 31-day devotional will inspire the reader to wait on God patiently and reverently to answer prayers according to His perfect timing. The author shares her own struggles and shortcomings in a relatable way that encourages and brings hope even in the most difficult circumstances. The devotions show that it is possible to walk through the valley and not despair while praising God and choosing contentment during trials. As missionary Jim Elliot once said, “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.”
From the time she was a child, Carly Shepherd has gazed at the silent stars in the night sky of her home town of Bethlehem, North Carolina. With her childhood overshadowed by her father’s abandonment and mother’s alcoholism, she wonders how anyone can believe in an equally silent God. After all, she’s not felt his presence any more than her earthly father. Drew Middleton is seeking shelter from a rain storm when he walks into Carly’s vendor tent at a fall festival, but he’s quickly taken with the talented artist and her creations. Feeling an instant connection, Carly is confused by her feelings, especially when she realizes his spiritual commitment. Carly’s past and their chance of future together collide when she’s snared into refurbishing sets for a Christmas pageant with Drew’s help. Will Drew’s love and their shared experience bring about a spiritual awakening in Carly this Christmas? Or will time run out as the stars continue to shine silently over Bethlehem?
Distraught that she and her husband are facing another childless Christmas, bakery owner Maddie Oliver tries to rescue every needy child who crosses her path. As the couple jumps each hurdle to adopt or become foster parents, they’re always disappointed. Then eight-year-old Chance Simmons comes into Oliver’s Bakery with his elderly grandmother, and Maddie is immediately smitten. Chance’s impish personality draws her in. Determined to stop focusing on her own problems, Maddie sets out to make this the best Christmas ever for the little boy and his ailing grandmother. What she doesn’t count on is him capturing her heart in the process. Will God orchestrate an even bigger Christmas gift than Maddie could imagine, or will she lose Chance for good when the Simmons family suffers a setback?
Blog images courtesy of Pixabay.