Grief remains one of the greatest challenges we face at the holidays. Perhaps it’s the expectations of family placed upon us. Maybe it’s a feeling that the one who really made the holiday special and gave it meaning is gone. Sometimes we, especially those widowed, feel as though the holidays have no meaning without our lost loved one beside us. Some are reminded that their family expectations are far removed from their broken family reality. These feelings and many more prove formidable challenges to our holiday happiness. What are we to do?
The Bible is no stranger to the topic of sadness and grief. God speaks a great deal about the subject and even identifies Jesus as “a man of sorrows” (Is 53:3), records his grief at a friend’s death (John 11:35), and his heavy heart for people’s unbelief (Mt 21). King David records his personal sorrow in Psalm 6 but never names the reason for it. Sorrow and sadness lines the pages of the Bible. The Bible, therefore, speaks a great deal to its remedy.
First, the Bible speaks of sorrow as a very natural part of life. It can spring from small matters or great tragedy. Sometimes we are unsure why we feel our sadness – it’s just there! The Bible also speaks of joy and hope in the face of terrible trouble. Herein lies the first secret to defeating sorrow whether at Christmas or another time. Joy and hope belong to the Lord as gifts he gives to those who place their trust in His goodness. In order to defeat sorrow and grief, we need a bigger hope that guides us through the dark times. Faith that God is good and that he hears our prayers is that hope. In times of distress we need to remind ourselves that God is not finished with us. We have to continue to fulfill our purpose.
Second, while sorrow is natural, praise is a discipline. Just as we place a bandage over a wound to help it heal, so too must we apply the bandage of praise over the emotional wound of grief. Praise of God is a bandage because it forces us to restrain the despair that often contaminates our grief. Its not easy to practice praise when we feel grieved because it hurts us emotionally just as pressure on the wound hurts. Yet, to prevent despair, we have to speak to God about His great help toward us – no matter how small.
Finally, we have to continue working. Self-focus is the worst mistake we can make when facing times of grief. Instead of turning to self-focus, we turn to helping others as often as possible. The best response to grief is to reach out to others and carry them forward with you. Find a way to serve the Lord through a local church. Plug into a ministry in the community. Help relieve other people’s struggles. Plan a Christmas meal and invite people in your neighborhood who may also be alone. Brighten other people’s lives with love for them and you will receive great comfort. Defeating grief is a tough task but a worthy endeavor. Defeating grief allows us to continue offering salvation to others.
Bless you as you continue to defeat it!