Christmas Time Doesn’t Have To Be A Difficult Time Of Year

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. 20 He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.

(Psalm 34-17-20)

As a child, I loved the time between Fall and Winter. It was my favorite time of year. I loved the cooler weather that came with Fall and the colors of the leaves as they changed and then falling off the trees. My parents used to say “lets take a drive and see the leaves change color”. I never quite understood that as by the time we got there they already changed color! But as I got older, I understood…”lets go look at the beautiful colors of the leaves”. Red, gold, orange, yellow, not my favorite colors in the world but on the leaves they looked wonderful.

Next came winter which brought Thanksgiving and Christmas. I couldn’t wait! I loved the snow and playing in it. I didn’t even mind shoveling at night. I remember one night in particular. It was pretty cold, in the teens or single digits, and I stopped shoveling, looked up at the sky and was awed by the clearness of it and the twinkling stars. I then closed my eyes and just listened to the silence until a car came slowly down the road, the snow crunching underneath it’s tires. To some it means nothing, but to me there was nothing like it. Everything looked and smelled fresh and clean. Nothing to worry about, no fear of being outside by myself, no concerns or “what ifs” ever came into my mind. I simply looked  forward to spending time with my family, even as a child. I looked forward to my mom being home from work for a week before Christmas, baking all sorts of desserts and preparing for Christmas day. I looked forward to going to my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve and seeing other cousins I didn’t get to see much and receiving her present which would always be the one present I’d open Christmas Eve as we got to open only one. Going to sleep was always the hardest in anticipation of the next day. We may not have had a lot of money, but we had  a lot of love. I have always been grateful to God for that.

Though I was fortunate to have such wonderful memories growing up, not everyone has those memories. Not everyone had a great home life. Not everyone received gifts. Not everyone had their parents and family with them or other loved ones. Not everyone had a roof over their head and sweet treats to look forward too. Not everyone experienced joy, love, peace and happiness that Christmas seems to promise to bring. For some, something happened at that time of year to cause them to dread that particular time every year. For others, loneliness sets in because of family rifts, divorce, distance between family members, or because they simply have no family left. The most joyous and special time of year turns out to be the worst for many…but it doesn’t have to.

Growing up in a large family, I loved the closeness we had. So when my husband entered the army and I joined him later on in Germany, I went from spending Christmas in a crowded house to spending Christmas in a small apartment with just the two of us. My husband didn’t really care if he celebrated holidays because he didn’t grow up in the same type of environment as I did. He came from a broken home and abuse. Spending Christmas with just the two of us was hard and I was depressed although I loved being with him. New Years Eve he went to bed early while I stayed up and cried. It took time to get used to this type of lifestyle but I adjusted and I vowed to changed some things. I decided that if I couldn’t be with my family, then I would adopt others to be my family and began inviting his troops over for the holidays whether they were single and had no where to go or if they had families. The more the merrier! We did this throughout his career until the last few years when we finally decided to give ourselves a rest and just spend it with our daughter. That was just as enjoyable!

It wasn’t my first encounter with depression. We have battled several times throughout my life after that and it brought along anxiety to try and help it defeat me. It was a few years after, around Christmas time, that I was struggling hard with depression and now anxiety where I called out to God for help and making him a promise that if He helped me out of this, I would help His people the way He helped me for the rest of my life. I can tell you this…God is loyal and faithful and He kept His promise and came to my rescue against depression and anxiety and I kept my promise as well.

It’s so easy to get lost at this time of year…lost amongst the noise and the Black Fridays where people just about kill each other just to get one gift that probably will go to Good Will or the Salvation Army store in a year or be re-gifted. It’s easy to fall into the depths of depression and sadness when we see happy families enjoying each other and the countless pictures of happy faces on Facebook sitting around mounds of presents while we may be sitting home alone, distant from family and friends, mourning a lost loved one, no money for gifts or to barely feed our families, living with an abusive spouse, facing eviction or worse yet, homeless. It’s easy to think “it’s never going to get any better…what’s the use…no one cares.”

I’m here to tell you that there is one who cares. There is one who sacrificed His life for you so you could spend eternity with Him. He is there…He is real…and He wants you to know your life is not shot. It’s not worthless. It’s not useless. He created you out of love and it was never His intentions for you to go through such difficulties and trials as you have but due to sin in the world, He knew it would happen. He didn’t create you just to see you experience such sadness in the depths of your soul that you’ve thought about walking away from everyone and everything or worse yet…to contemplate thoughts of suicide. His intentions were for you to be close to Him, have a relationship with Him, walk through those difficulties with Him and enjoy life in the process. His name is Jesus and He understands your pain. His own life was not always easy, especially when He began His ministry to tell the world about His Father, God. When He was born, He was born in a stable and slept in a manger. From the time He was a baby, there was someone looking for Him to try and kill Him. After He began His ministry, He walked from place to place never knowing where His next meal would come from or where he would be laying down His head for the night although He knew His Father, God, would take care of Him and His disciples. Many times He was stalked by those who hated him and were jealous of Him, because they feared Him and didn’t understand the love and forgiveness He preached. They thought He was a rebel trying to cause trouble and wanted to kill Him. He helped countless of people only to have many others turn around and call out for His crucifixion. He suffered betrayal by friend, disbelief from family, rejection, worry, concern, physical and verbal abuse. Yet, He allowed it all to happen to complete His mission His Father gave to Him to save you because He loves you.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved … (Ephesians 2:4-5)

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

If I was able to do one thing for you, I would want to show you snippets of my life so you could see the realness of God. The times that I prayed when in fear, worry, anger or sadness, and the answered prayers I received. I would show you the countless times I would be talking to God, baring my heartache to Him, get in my car, turn on the radio, and suddenly hear the Pastor on the radio talking about the very same thing I just got done praying to God about. That comforting message of love and guidance was God’s way of saying “I hear you, I love you, and this is what I will do (or this is what you need to do)”. I would show you the times I would be crying out in the middle of prayer, only to receive a text out of the blue from a friend sending me a scripture that pertained to what I was crying about or about God’s love and faithfulness, all the while knowing nothing of what I was going through. It has happened more times than I can count (at least on two hands and two feet!). I would show you the changes He made in my family and myself that I never thought could be changed. Did I mentioned the answered prayers for help? Maybe I did, or just want to repeat it.

I want you to know that no matter what your past was…it’s just that…the past. It can’t hurt you unless you allow it too. It can’t rule you unless you let it. That person from your past has no power over you any longer unless you give them that authority to live in your mind. And if that person is still causing you problems today, I want you to know that there is a God who is more powerful than that person, more powerful than any disease, more powerful than any situation, any creditor, any enemy that comes your way. His name is Jesus and He wants you to come to Him for help.

How do you do it? Simple:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”( Matthew 11:28-30)

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

That’s it. Tell Him your worries and concerns. Ask Him for help and then be patient and wait. Next, leave your home and go do something for someone. When we are lonely, the best medicine besides reading the Bible and praying is going out and helping someone else who is lonely. Once we begin helping others, we begin to change, but you can’t do it if you are sitting in your house. It doesn’t cost money so don’t worry about not having the money to help. Lift that person up with your words or a hug. Go to a soup kitchen and feed others. Volunteer your time. Do for others what you need for yourself. I know this works because I did it. Depression is a deep dark hole that can suck you in further and further, but the minute we start showing love to others and doing for others, we begin to be pulled out.

You are needed and God has a purpose for you as we see in Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Today, is a new day. Jesus is extending His hand to you so He can pull you out of that pit of depression, despair, suicidal thoughts, anger, fear, jealousy, bitterness, worry, grief, sadness, unforgiveness, loneliness, self-righteousness, pride, addiction or whatever else you are going through. I urge you to take it and pray, pouring out your heart to Him. I know it’s hard, but you can do it and He will help you because Philippians 4:13 states “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I guarantee if you do, you won’t regret it. Does it mean all your problems will go away? No…BUT it does mean Jesus will help you through it and bring resolution to it. Does it mean you will never suffer again? No…BUT it does mean that during the time you do, He will bring you comfort and peace to get you through it.

Don’t allow this season or anytime throughout the year to cause you to lose your joy. It happens, I know, but when we have Jesus in our lives, He can and will make all things better and He will walk you through it each step of the way, never leaving your side because the Bible states nothing can separate us from His love in Romans 8:38-39:

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you don’t know what to pray or how to pray, Start with this:

Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner and I humbly apologize for this and I ask for your forgiveness. I accept you as my Lord and Savior and believe that you died on the cross for my sins. I know that once you forgive me, you have blot it out from your mind and remember my past no more. Help me to do the same for others when they hurt me. I have been hurt so much in my past that it follows me from day to day, but I do not want to give it or that person any more power over my life. I ask that you break the chains of my past from me and set me free. I ask that you help me to forgive those who have harmed me as you have forgiven me because I know that I am unable to do this on my own. I ask that you break my chains to depression, unworthiness, rejection, loneliness and anything else I struggle with and help me to become healed as the Word of God states I am healed by your stripes. I ask that you come to my rescue in the situation I am in and help me out of it. I ask that you stop the abuse in my life and help me not to abuse others either in words or action. Please remove my addictions and break my bondages. Lord, show me what to do and how to do it. I want to know your purpose for my life and do what you’ve created me to do. Increase my faith and trust in You so I will never have to worry again. Show me that You are real so I can share you with others. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ…Amen.