I have some friends who are hurting during this holiday season. One is dealing with a daughter teetering on the edge of rebellion. One has empty arms when she thought she’d be rocking a baby this Christmas. One buried a daughter last week, a year after a tragic car accident. One is struggling in her marriage, wondering if it will survive.
I have my own hurts, too, as I’m sure you do. The holidays seem to make hurt harder to deal with. Maybe it’s because everything around us suggests that all should be well. From the twinkling lights on the tree to the shining pictures we scroll through on Instagram, everything suggests that this is the season to be merry and bright. That may be why hurt cuts deeper in December. Our griefs look a little darker next to the tinsel and bows.
One friend, though, recently changed my perspective on hurting during the holidays. She has struggled for the last several months with a painful health issue. At one point she had to be hospitalized, and all she could think about during that time was her desire to be well. To be able to carry out her normal routine as a mom, a wife, and an employee. Her greatest fear was that she would never be well again. That she would never feel normal again.
Following her time in the hospital, she began to seek the Lord diligently while she pursued health. After listening to the advice of many health professionals, she decided to postpone surgery, make some lifestyle changes, and wait on the Lord. She entered into a time of having to depend on the Lord every day, every breath, while she dealt with the pain and trusted him for wisdom. I saw her weekly this fall, and I could see Jesus in her more and more every week. She was waiting, trusting, and connecting with the Lord like she never had before. It was beautiful to watch.
Recently God has answered her prayers and has begun to heal her. We’ve all been praising the Lord with her, so grateful that she didn’t have to go through with the surgery. Our last conversation was full of delight in what the Lord has done for her, as well as some astonishment in his healing power.
But then she said something that both surprised and inspired me. She said, “You know, Lindsay, my greatest fear used to be that I’d never get well. Now, though, my greater fear is that, as I get well, I will lose the closeness to the Lord that I have had while I’ve been sick.”
She has discovered that while the gift of physical health is good, the gift of God’s presence is better.
When I think of my friends who are hurting this month, I want to relieve their pain. I want them to get well. I want to be well, too, and for the hurt to go away. I want all of our days to be merry and bright. But my friend, Carly, has taught me something. Maybe the absence of hurt is not what we really need. Maybe the presence of God in our hurt is the best gift we could receive this Christmas.
There’s no better time than the holidays to remember why Jesus came: to enter into our hurt and to give us the gift of himself. One day he will make everything right and we will enjoy the absence of pain and tears… all will be well. Until then, we will hurt. Sometimes deeply, especially during the holidays. But maybe you could learn, as I have, from Carly. When God draws us close in our hurt, he gives us what we really need and will never want to lose.
That’s what I really want for Christmas. How about you?