Christmas is just around the corner, and while for most people, it’s a time of celebrating with presents and parties, for some others, it isn’t all joy and glad tidings. Whether you’re a single person struggling with not having a special someone, a parent grieving the loss of your child, or a spouse who isn’t ready to spend this festive season without your life partner, Christmas can be a challenging time to go through.
First of all, know that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. This isn’t about making your pain, frustration or sadness go away by sheer willpower (we all know it doesn’t work like that). Some seasons are definitely harder to get through, and that’s part of the rhythms of life. At the same time, we can choose to cling on to the hope of God’s redemptive plan even through these challenges.
Tell God your pain
Whether your pain is the ache for a relationship, mourning for a loved one, or not having a desired community of friends with whom to spend Christmas, know that you can pour out your complaints before God and tell Him your troubles (Psalm 142:2).
He knows you intimately, even the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7) and your every thought, way and word (Psalm 139:1-4), so He understands your pain. God stores your tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8) because He is very concerned about you.
You can “[cast] all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7) and you can count on Him to sustain you in this difficult season (Psalm 55:22).
Because God knows what you’re going through, you can trust Him to meet your needs. Jesus assures us, “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). And He is faithful to provide for you, for “God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
This may seem hard to believe when things aren’t what you desire them to be and nothing you do seems to help you to feel better. But that’s what trusting God is all about: it means not depending on our own understanding or feeling about the situation, but a wholehearted leaning upon God and His ways, resting in the knowledge that, despite how things may look right now, He will indeed make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Guard your heart and mind
While there is certainly a time to pour out what you’re feeling to God, it is important not to slip into wallowing in self-pity.
We are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and to “[k]eep your heart with all vigilance” (Proverbs 4:23). This includes taking captive every unhelpful thought and emotion that might lead us to be so sorry for ourselves that our perspective become skewed, causing us to see the situation as more hopeless than it actually is.
But don’t call hopeless what God hasn’t called hopeless; He is in the business of bringing hope into hopeless situations and life into lifeless circumstances (Romans 4:17).
The Bible tells us that the key to inviting the peace of God to guard our hearts and minds from unhelpful thoughts is to constantly bring all our requests to God in prayer: “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5-7).
Learn to give thanks
Another key mentioned in the passage is thanksgiving. Gratitude helps us to be aligned with God’s perspective by teaching us to see the good in every situation.
Although it’s counter-intuitive, can you think of a few things to thank God for even in this difficult time? Perhaps it’s in being single that you gain the opportunity to deepen your trust in God and His perfect timing, allowing you to know Him better; the comfort and help you receive from family members and friends amidst your grief; or God’s gracious providence for you in other ways in spite of your lack in this particular area.
As you learn to give thanks in all circumstances, you accomplish the will of God for your life (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and attune your eyes to more readily see the things your heart can be grateful to Him for.
Remember, too, the reason for the season: Christmas celebrates God sending His Son into the world, reaching out to us with peace because He was pleased with us (Luke 2:14).
Therefore, we can also give thanks in all circumstances because God has lovingly reconciled us to Himself through His Son (2 Corinthians 5:18), so that we are no longer His enemies (Romans 5:10), but can be called His sons and daughters by receiving Jesus through faith (John 1:12, Galatians 3:26).
Know your true identity
Because of the great love your Father has lavished on you, you have a new identity in Jesus as His child (1 John 3:1). You don’t have to be defined by your lack—who or what you don’t have—because you are rooted and grounded in God’s love for you (Ephesians 3:17).
And our loving Father does not withhold good things from you (Psalm 84:11), but gives good things to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11). Though you may not perceive this now, know that He is good and He is good to you, always.
So whether you eventually join a group of friends for a Christmas gathering or spend Christmas by yourself, trust that God knows your needs and He is faithful to provide for you. Remember that He is Immanuel—He is always with you (Matthew 1:23). After all, that’s the reassurance promised to us by the birth of Jesus Christ, which is what Christmas is all about.
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