Pastor Joshua West
Worship Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
Well, here we are again: officially immersed in the Christmas season. The stores are flooded with thousands of frantic shoppers, all searching for that perfect gift. Christmas tunes are continually on replay no matter where you go. Decorations have been placed, lights have been lit, presents have been wrapped, “Elf” is being played on every TV channel, and there are a million holiday activities to partake in- the zoo lights, the parades, the long lines at the mall to see Santa Clause, and the list goes on. Yet in the middle of all the hustle and bustle and joy and excitement, I want to take a moment to recognize those who may find Christmas time to be one of the most difficult or painful times of the year. If that’s you this Christmas season, I want you to know you are not overlooked.
“If you are grieving the loss of a loved one or have gone through a divorce and are facing spending your first Christmas without that person, know that your loss is not being pushed aside. Whether you are currently walking through a gripping addiction, trial, or scary health diagnosis, your struggle is not dismissed. If you are trying to keep your head above water financially, emotionally, physically, or relationally, you are not forgotten. Just because it’s Christmas time and everyone around us seems to be happy, struggles, hurt, and pain don’t disappear. In the midst of Christmas cheer, the world can feel like it’s spinning so fast, maybe you have felt like your hurt or sadness has been drowned out by other’s joy this season. Today, I want to talk to you specially, because I see you. I hear you. And so does Jesus.
I’m not here today to tell you that “Jesus is the reason for the season” so you should just be happy. I’m not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t feel. And I’m certainly not here to tell you that the sadness or hurt burrowed in your heart should somehow dissolve. Instead, I want to pray for you during this season. I want to mourn with you. I want to grieve beside you. We were never meant to feel alone, isolated or forgotten. I want to walk beside you, helping you carry your heavy burdens to God’s throne this morning. I truly wish I was here with you in person, but know that my heart is with you right now. Let’s pray:
I want to lift up my brother/sister to you this morning. As David prays in Psalm 56:8, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” You are so acquainted with their sorrow, you catch each of their tears in your bottle. Even if they have felt unnoticed by everyone in their life, may they know you care about them enough to count every hair on their head and catch every tear that they cry (Luke 12:7). You hear their cries. You see their brokenness. We know that when Isaiah prophesied about your birth, we were told your name would be “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) and we thank you that you promise to still be that same wonderful, mighty, eternal source of peace today. I ask that you would pour out on my brother/sister, your indescribable peace that surpasses their understanding, and that you would guard their heart and their mind (Philippians 4:7). God, we know you do not comfort us from a lofty place where you do not understand how we feel, but instead, you comfort us in a place of empathy because you have personally experienced what it means to grieve and feel sorrowful (Matthew 26:38-39). I pray that my friend would be able to release this heavy weight on their shoulders-this burden far too big for them to carry-and allow you to carry this load for them (Matthew 11:30). Sometimes, we are expected to be strong. We are expected to pull ourselves up and keep on going, even when all we want to do is collapse and say “I can’t do this!” It’s true, we are not strong enough in ourselves to handle the pain or overcome the adversity we face in our lives at times- we need You, Lord (Philippians 4:13, John 15:5). My friend needs you, especially now. May you give them a specific promise to hold on to during this time. Even if life seems to be crashing around them, I ask that you would help them to simply find joy in your presence this Christmas season (Psalm 16:11). Please fill them with your strength-strength that only comes from you (Psalm 46:1). May they know you are holding them close and promise to never ever let them go (Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:2, Deuteronomy 31:8-9). Bring comfort for my brother/sister this season and please help them to know they are never alone (Psalm 119:76).
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” -Psalm 40:1-2″