While many are busily preparing for Christmas (and other holidays) by attending gatherings, musicals, events, and eating yummy food (that will inspire New Year’s resolutions in the days to come), others are facing the reality of a season that is less than jolly. I know that many will read that first line and stop reading because they believe that they have a magical “Get out of jail free” card that inoculates them from the holiday blues, but this reality is something that we all should be mindful of no matter how jolly we feel at the moment.
In the course of my journey, I have crossed paths with many in this realm of life experience:
Missionaries who have made great sacrifices to serve among people who could care less that it is Jesus’ birthday. Great people who are flesh and blood human beings and miss grandma’s sweet potato casserole and brown sugar, honey ham.
Servicemen and women who believe in the freedoms that they defend even though they awake to a mouthful of sand or a bunk on a ship that is about as big as a sardine can instead of the warm embraces of loved ones (even newborn children).
The elderly who find themselves in assisted living facilities without the love and care of family who they loved for years before and many Christmas’ past.
Single adults, internationals, and others who for one reason or another find themselves apart from family and friends during a season when everyone should have someone.
And the list goes on. You surely can think of other scenarios and my intention is not to be Debbie Downer during such a time of merriment, but we do need to face facts. Does that mean that the suicide rate is highest in December? Actually no, those statistics have been proven false. (For more, click here.) Regardless of the suicide rate, people get the blues and we need to be sensitive to those who need the love of Christ during this season.
So if we are going to resolve to live outside of ourselves and help others this Christmas, what does this look like?
1. Reach out to those who are less fortunate in your community through local charitable organizations. There are many who publish their needs on a regular basis with opportunities to give and support their work.
2. Visit those in assisted living. They rarely turn down an individual, family, or church group who wishes to serve them, sing, or do a craft.
3. Reach out to family and friends who find themselves alone during this season. Invite them over for dinner or for a family outing.
4. Connect with your local college and ask if there are internationals who would like to spend the holidays with a family. Many of them are far from home and anxious for compassion.
5. Pray. Ask God how He would have you to serve this Christmas and then be obedient. It may entail any number of opportunities, but the fruit of such giving will return for years as that person expresses their gratitude, your children adopt the value of giving, and, most important of all, Jesus is glorified through the giving of his people.
We rarely realize the power of giving, but there is no time like the present to practice the presence of Christ by focusing less on that which we are receiving and more on that which we can give others. Even to the extent of giving to those who we may not even know during times of great need. Paul spoke about Jesus when it came to the matter of giving when he said:
“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
May God grant you the grace needed during this season to follow his example and give according to the grace that he has given you. Celebrate the gift of His only Son by giving to others in ways that glorifies your Father in Heaven and then you will know the joy of Christmas.