It feels like Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and excitement, doesn’t it? But what about when it’s not? What about when Christmas seems anything but joyful? Dear friend, if you’re feeling hopeless this Christmas, I have been there.
This post is the most weighty and heart felt post I have ever written. Settle in for a minute and let me share some things with you that I have learned in the midst of my darkest seasons.
We’ve had our share of hopeless Christmases.
There was the Christmas we spent with our daughter in the ICU, not sure what the outcome would be.
There was the Christmas I felt completely isolated with a newborn that I was desperately trying to shelter from the germs of Christmas parties and family gatherings.
There have been Christmases with job insecurity, and Christmases with skinny bank accounts.
I know how it is to feel hopeless at Christmas. It’s like when the world around you is celebrating with red and green, glitter and sparkles, and all you can see is grey.
What is it for you, this year?
Maybe you want to give your kids a great Christmas, but your bank account says all you can afford are some lumps of coal.
Maybe some relationships aren’t working out like you thought they would.
Maybe you’re facing some big, scary diagnosis for yourself or someone you care about.
Maybe your future is looking a little uncertain.
Maybe you’re struggling with depression.
Maybe you’re feeling a little isolated and alone.
Whatever the reason is, can I offer you some encouragement? Can I share some things from the depths of my heart that I learned during my most hopeless seasons?
We have a God who knows. He knows the weight that you’re carrying deeply and intimately, and He is not removed from you.
Grief and Hope
In John 11, we read about the death of Lazarus. If you’re not familiar with the story, you can read it now by clicking here. Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus was sick. Mary and Martha send word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” (John 11:3).
Then the Bible says,
“When Jesus heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory that God’s Son may be glorified through it. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. SO when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days…” (John 11:4-6) (emphasis added).
When I was in a particularly hopeless place I read this passage and was struck with the realization that it was because Jesus loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus that he waited to go see them. If he had gone when Lazarus was sick, he could have healed him. But then they would not have known and understood that He had the power over death.
When we’re talking about grief and wrestling with the question of “why does God allow hard things,” things get a little touchy.
Jesus did not cause Lazarus to get sick. And he didn’t cause Lazarus to die. But the uncomfortable truth in this story is that he deliberately waited and did not intervene until Lazarus had already died because he knew that in doing so, it would give Mary and Martha the opportunity to see a new side of Jesus that they didn’t know yet. If Lazarus had not died, they would not have known the Jesus who has power even over death.
Let’s continue the story.
Jesus arrives in Bethany and finds that Lazarus has already been in the tomb for four days. He was gone – there was no doubt about it. When Mary finds out that Jesus has arrived, she goes out to met him.
“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’” (John 11:32).
She confronts the fact that Jesus could have prevented her grief.
My friend, are you grieving?
Do you have anger and frustration and disillusionment pent up in your heart towards God?
Are you angry with Him for not intervening and preventing your heartache?
Don’t keep it bottled up. He can handle it. Tell him.
Pour out your heart to Him. Scream, yell, cry – wrestle with God over it. But when you have exhausted yourself, be still and wait for His response.
Let’s read on because Jesus’ response is my favorite part.
“When Jesus saw her weeping… he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” (John 11:32). When he goes to the tomb, the text says, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35).
Jesus knew he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. He wasn’t weeping over the loss of his friend. He was moved by the grief of those he loved.
Jesus is moved by our grief.
If you are familiar with the story then you know what comes next. Jesus prays, then…
“When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:43-44
If you are feeling hopeless this Christmas, know that we have a God who is moved by our grief. But he’s not just moved by it – he’s present in it. Isn’t that truly what Christmas is all about? Immanuel, God with us.
He came as a baby to live on this earth and point us to the Father, and then to die on the cross for our sins so that there wouldn’t be any barriers between us and God. He is with us and because of the Christmas story, and because of the sacrifice He gave, we have direct access to the Father to help us in our time of need.
We also serve a God who has the power to raise the dead.
He is present with us in our heartache. He is moved by our grief. And He has the power to breathe life into what was once dead.
If you are in a hopeless place this Christmas season, I have some very simple, yet very powerful tips for getting through the holiday season:
Pour out your heart to God.
He can handle it. Be honest with him in your grief and anger, but then ask him to show you where He is in your situation.
Renew your mind.
I know you don’t feel like it. But, my friend, you have to fight for hope. You have to make the choice to feed hope even when you don’t feel like it. Meditate on scripture that is hope-filled. These are my favorite scriptures in the middle of hard times:
To Download a printable PDF file of the scriptures above, subscribe to my mailing list and it will be e-mailed to you!
Create an atmosphere of peace & hope in your home.
Saturate the sound waves around you with worship music. Put hope-filled scripture cards like the ones at the bottom of this post around your home where you can see them.
Take a journal, or even just a note on your phone and write down all of the ways you have seen God move in your life in the past. Write down all of the blessings you do have even in the midst of your hard season. Do this daily. Be sensitive and alert to the little blessings that present themselves to you every day.
Practice Self Care.
Get sleep when you need it. Talk with a friend or see a counselor if you need to. Get some exercise and sunshine if you can. Go for a walk. Laugh. Watch a funny movie or spend time browsing funny memes. Do not neglect self care in this season.
Where our hope is…
The truth is that our hope isn’t in holiday parties, the gifts we get, or the gifts we’re able to give our kids.
Our hope doesn’t lie in bank accounts or job security.
In fact, our hope doesn’t even lie in the people we have around us.
No, our hope is in Christ. And he doesn’t change. He doesn’t fail.
He is the same in season and out of season. He is with us just as much in the hard holidays as in the joyous ones. He is present. Immanuel. God with us.
If you are going through a hard time this season, I want to pray for you. I may not have experienced your particular circumstance, but I certainly do understand the heaviness that comes along with hopeless seasons. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I ask you to do something for me? Will you share this post? Whether you’re going through a hard time or not, there’s a good chance that someone in your circles is and needs to hear this message.