My worst Christmas ever was the year my husband left. In September he had informed me he didn’t love me anymore and in early November he moved out. I had no idea if he would come back or how to fix it; I felt lost and alone.
In December, I dressed up and put on my holiday face to attend my oldest daughter’s Christmas show. My mom, younger daughter, and I got to the high school early and chose a place down front so we wouldn’t miss anything. But I regretted that decision when the first performer began.
She positioned herself on a stool in the spotlight, and strummed her guitar singing, “It’s going to be a blue Christmas without you.” I could feel cold nausea rising in my stomach. There was no way to escape for a meltdown without everyone in the room seeing me, so I did my best to swallow the sobs. My mom reached for my hand and held me with her gaze. Even now, twelve Christmases later, that song thrusts a knife in my gut.
Many of you are there now. You’ve lost a spouse to death or divorce; you’re estranged from ones you love; or you’ve experienced significant loss. Christmas can magnify the sadness because it’s supposed to be a time of hope and rejoicing. And it is. But even believers can get bogged down by the circumstances of life.
Through my divorce and bouts of depression, God has taught me how to weather the storm, and even shorten the duration of these dark times. There’s merit in healthy eating, getting regular exercise and rest, interacting with positive people, and staying in the Word. Reading and watching uplifting books and movies helps, as well as humor and the beauty of nature. But best of all is learning how to change the conversation in your head.
Our self-talk and what we speak out loud, can feed either hope or despair. We can be honest about feeling sad, lonely, disappointed, or confused without focusing on those dark thoughts. Learning and repeating scriptural truth is essential.
In short: Don’t’ declare lies over yourself. Don’t give fuel to the Accuser. Check to see who you’re in conversation with—the God of hope who makes all things new, who will never fail or abandon you, or Satan who steals, kills, and destroys.
During my separation and divorce, the book of Isaiah comforted my soul. Many verses have dates written in the margins. God proved himself true and I continue to experience His comforting presence in sad times. Here are a few favorites. I pray, even in your darkest moments, you will know you’re not alone. You are loved and so very valuable.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
“I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
“Here is my servant, [Foretelling the coming of Jesus, whose birth we celebrate!] whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice.”
This is what the Lord says—he who created you…he who formed you…“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…you are precious and honored in my sight…Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
This is what the Lord says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid.
(Isaiah 40:1; 41:10, 13; 42:1-3a; 43:1-5, 18-19; 44:2, NIV)
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