“When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow.” Romans 12:15
For so many, Christmas is a joy-filled time of celebrations—but we can’t hide the reality that for some people this is a time of loneliness and deep sorrow. How do we handle Christmas joy and grief at the same time?
If you are like me, you want to be an encourager and give hope to those who are hurting this Christmas.
A few years ago I participated in the Christmas Eve service at my church. The music was beautiful and the message was full of the Christmas Joy. The only thing missing was my sweet parents. Had they still been living, they would have been sitting in the front row– singing along and grinning from ear to ear.
After the music ended and we made our exit off the stage, I had to quickly excuse myself to a private corner down the hallway for a good, hard cry. Oh, how my heart was hurting! I deeply missed my parents!
I’d be a complete fake if I said the holidays were easy and totally free from the sorrow and sadness. I’m continuing to learn to intentionally make choices on how I handle those tender moments of grief. I’ve learned not to stay in the sadness too long and risk getting emotionally stuck spiraling down the toilet quickly.
So what do we do for our friends who are grieving?
Here are a few helpful gifts I’ve received from my friends and family and now try to give to others who are hurting:
1. Give the simple gift of listening.
Be available. Call others and grab a cup of coffee together. Your sheer presence and understanding heart will say, “I care.” Ask the direct question, “How are you doing?” and give them permission to talk about their feelings while you listen.
2. Give the gift of an authentic long-lasting friendship.
No need to pretend. The sorrow is real. Honesty is critical for healing. Love and truth go together and will bring peace to those who are hurting.
3. Give the gift of prayer.
Pray with and for your friend. Speak hope into their lives at this time.
“Take their sorrow to the Lord. Ask Him to heal their hearts, renew their strength, and fill them with the love and comfort of the Holy Spirit.” John MacArthur
4. Give the gift of hope.
Invite your grieving friends over for dinner. Include them in your Celebrations. Offer to pick them up and go shopping together so they are not alone. Invite them to attend and offer to pick them up for your church Christmas Eve Service.
“The comfort God has given you is not only His loving ministry to you, it is His call to you to minister to others. You have experienced the pain of loss, but you have also begun to experience the comfort that only the Lord can give.” Paul David Tripp
“Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.” Romans 12:12
5. Give the gift of you.
Don’t believe the lie that you are inadequate to reach out to someone. You are exactly what they need —an available friend who is willing to talk face to face and heart to heart.
Who do you know that you can reach out to this Christmas?
New traditions and expectations may seem overwhelming. Ask God to give those hurting friends His grace and hope in the face of the new Christmas season.
Over time, I’ve learned it’s not about choosing between joy and sorrow; the challenge is to choose victory and to live with my hope and joy in Jesus Christ. Living without my loved ones is difficult. I’ve decided they would be sad if they knew they were the reason I stopped living joyfully during the Christmastime, so I’ve decided to live an intentionally joy-filled life in their honor.
“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” Helen Keller
“The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4