Its a sad time of year for many.

I watch people whom I love suffer this time of year. Some suffer because their parents divorced around Thanksgiving or Christmas. Others suffer because their parents or brothers or sisters or grandparents died around this time. Others suffer because THEY themselves separated or divorced around this time of year. Others suffer because their children died around this time of year. Others suffer because they had an abortion this time of year, or because the child they should have had died before being born this time of year, for what ever reason. Sometimes we’ve cut ourselves off from our friends and families. Sometimes they’ve cut us off. Both are painful, if we admit it.

I watched a movie last night about a young girl whose mother died just before Christmas. She ended up having to stay with the social worker who was responsible for her. Thispoor social worker’s 18 year old son had died two Christmases before. She was suffering. Her husband was suffering. The child who had lost her mother was suffering. It was hard to watch. But there was a redeeming note to the story. The father was trying to save his marriage and wanted to talk with the wife, though she had been avoiding it for 2 years. But then the mother began dealing with her feelings. The girl was convinced her (dead) mother was going to give her a special present for Christmas and she would not let that go. In the end, the marriage was strengthened; girl ended up being adopted by the couple who had lost a son; the little girl got her special present from her mom. It turned out to be heart warming, if a little bitter sweet.

Why can’t it be that way for everyone? Why do people have to die at Christmas? Why can’t everyone get their special present? Why can’t everyone’s mariage be strengthened this time of year? Why? Why? Why?….

I don’t know. I dont have all the answers (regardless of what some of you may think, I realize my limitations).

All I know is that this time of year can hurt. Well, I also know that watching people who hurt because of what has happened in the past this time of year hurts those who love them. And one more thing I know: It hurts less to watch people hurt than it does to hurt for our own reasons – so dont remove yourself from this world prematurely.

Oh. well. hmm.

I guess I DO know one more thing. God is in control and God loves us (John 3:16). HE tells us that He even determines when and where we will live so we might find Him (Acts 17:26-28). Its not that God makes us do things. But His perfect and complete plan includes our choices and actions.

Sometimes our choices hurt us. Sometimes they hurt others. My dad died because he smoked. He got cancer and never quit smoking or drinking. He died. That hurt. It still hurts sometimes – especially when I’d like his advice or would like to share my kids’ lives with him, or when I think about him (I loved him). Same thing with my mom. Not sure why she died exactly (I dont know what causes a ponine hemorage), but she did. It hurts, and for much of the same reasons.

Sometimes things happen to us, and sometimes we make things happen. But regardless, we are not alone. I say this because it appears we have angels sent to minister to us (Matthew 18:10; Acts 12:12-15; Hebrews 1:14). But more importantly, the Holy Spirit lives within us if we trust in God through faith in Christ (Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:14). Another way to say that is, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God” (1 John 4:15). Indeed, Christ dwells in us through faith (Ephesians 3:17).

Romans 8:28-32 tells us,

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Indeed, if God is for us, who can be against us. We dont have to be alone physically either. This is part of why the church exists, to build one another up (1 Corinthians 14:12; Hebrews 10:24). We are told to not stop gathering together (Hebrews 10:22-25). We need other people who love God. We need their encouragement. And if we claim to love God, we need to show our love practically.

James 1:27

27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

When we face difficult times, we need to seek God, and seek others. When we know others facing difficult times, we need to encourage them.

Hebrews 10:22-25

22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

God defends the defenseless. He is father the the fatherless and defender of widows.

God has a special place in his heart for orphans, widows, and even people who are not in their countries of origin. So if you fit those categories, know that you are special – even if it doesn’t feel like it. And if you claim to love God, then you should be showing that love especially to people who fit into those categories.

Deuteronomy 10:17-19

17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.

Psalm 68:5

5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.

It is not just expecting God to fix us or the situation (because sometimes He wont do what we think we want or need). Neither is it expecting that others can or should make us feel better. Its more than that. We need to pray. We need to be thankful. We need to rejoice in what God has done. We need to focus on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy. And we need to live a life of contentment, regardless of the situation..

Philippians 4:4-13

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

10I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Is God enough? Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. But our feelings dont change the truth of the matter. We simply have to rely upon God. We need to cry out to God. We need to rest in God. Its good to cry, sometimes. We can do so in God’s hands (John 10:28-30).

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4 Responses

  1. Thank God that the true redemptive Church is One, above..Heaven, and below..even here on earth! And Christ is Lord God, and Savior…still the Incarnate One above, “Parakletos”, and One here too, “within” (both collective and each redeemed)…the Parakletos – The Person of the Holy Spirit! (1 John 2:1 / St. John 14: 16).
    Here, is the Trinity of God for us, even in us!
    “And I (Christ) will ask the Father, and He will give you another Parakletos, that HE may be with you forever.” !

    What grace and comfort! “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (St. John 14:18)

  2. AMEN! Have a very Blessed Christmas wb, if I don’t get to say it again! – Fr. R.

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