Christmas is my favorite time of year!
I look forward to hanging the wreaths on the doors. I love stringing the multi-colored lights on my Christmas tree and strategically placing each memorable ornament in its rightful place. Sipping the big mug of marshmallow-topped hot cocoa warms my soul. Listening to the Jazz influenced Christmas music playing in the background and singing along makes my heart glad.
At last, when the Christmas tree has donned its skirt and the mantle piece stands arrayed in garland and candles, I proclaim,” It is finished”. At that point, I turn off the ceiling light, stand in the back of the living room for a panoramic view, breathe a sigh of relief and smile, because then, it is Christmas. At least it is Christmas in my house.
The Pew Research Center reports that 92% of North Americans celebrate Christmas. For that reason alone, it is difficult to remember not everyone embraces the joy of this holiday.
Although it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, some will not be decking the halls with boughs of holly or planning to come home for Christmas, not even in their dreams.
Many of our sisters across this land are challenged with joy busters called anxiety and/or depression.
Currently, 18% of the population struggles with anxiety and 6.75% are challenged with depression.
The “Joy” that others exude during this season is salt in the wounds of those who are suffering.
There are a number of reasons our sisters walk in the shadow of anxiety or depression;
loss of a loved one,
spiritual unrest etc.
Some women deal with emptiness because their child is with the other parent this Christmas or their adult child can’t make it home this year. Don’t forget the mother who doesn’t have the funds to buy presents or provide a nice holiday meal.
For some, anxiety/depression is visiting, but for others, it has taken up residence and become a serious condition or disorder. Mental illness is real. I encourage you to self-educate so that you can better help those in need.
How can we help women who search for joy during the holidays? Here are a few suggestions
I. Be there.
Your willingness to sit with them in church or visit their home will speak volumes. Offer a listening ear and be real. Real people show emotions.
Rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Cry with those who are crying. Romans 12:15 ISV
II. Send a word of encouragement.
An appropriate bible verse or a simple “I was thinking about you” would mean so much.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11 ESV
A man has joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! Proverbs 15:23 KJV
III. Share your holiday traditions with them.
Invite them to the cookie share, the family fun night or the Christmas dinner.
But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, Luke 14:13
(She can be poor in spirit, and so overwhelmed that she is unable to stand up straight or see clearly)
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 NIV
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
IV. Share your favorite Christmas-themed worship music. Worship ushers in the presence of the Lord and the Lord brings joy.
But you are holy, O you that inhabit the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3 KJV
V. Pray with them and for them.
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. I Timothy 2:1-2
There is no wand or magical words that heal. What we do have is a God in us that uses our hands and feet to bless others. This Christmas season let us make ourselves available to bring the joy of Christmas to someone who is struggling to find it.
Please be kind to everyone you meet because everyone is fighting a battle.” Alexander Maclaren an old Scottish preacher