I love the holidays with all those picture-perfect moments and photo-worthy family gatherings. I love thinking about and planning for the fun activities and festive meals we’ll participate in. Most of all, I love savoring the birth of the Savior - Christmas is such a wonderful time to reflect and think about all that Jesus did on my behalf.
But maybe you’re not eager for the holidays this year because you’re hurting. Maybe a recent loss - or a loss associated with either Thanksgiving or Christmas - has dampened your joy, and you’re not really sure how to feel happy when, inside, you’re still suffering deeply.
A good friend of mine lost her brother the day after Thanksgiving. Another close friend miscarried around the same time of year. My own grandpa died just a few days before Christmas. So, while we all enjoy the holidays, there are hard, sad moments right along with the good, lighthearted ones.
There’s no easy way to find hope when you’re hurting this holiday season. But we can - and should - find comfort and encouragement in Scripture. That’s not to say that we need to get over our grief; sorrow is a human emotion that God designed us with, and it’s also something that Jesus experienced deeply while here on Earth.
But for those of us who are saved, it’s possible to have spiritual joy even during times of great suffering and loss. Below are four reasons to have hope this holiday season, even if you’re hurting.
We have the hope of Eternal Life
In this life, we likely will face immense sorrow and suffering. But as Christians who are trusting in Christ’s finished work on the cross, we can eagerly look forward to Eternity spent in His presence!
Psalm 16:11 says, “…in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (NKJV). While we certainly can have joy in His presence here on Earth, too, I can only imagine that being in His presence in Heaven will give us a joy unlike anything we try to imagine.
God will wipe away all of our tears
In addition to the joy we will experience in the presence of the Savior, Revelation 22:4 promises, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (NKJV, emphasis added).
No matter what circumstances here on Earth cause us to shed tears, God will wipe away all of our sorrow and crying in Heaven. There will be nothing but hope and joy when we get to spend forever with Him.
God is using our pain for our good
I don’t know anyone who enjoys suffering, but the Bible promises us that God is using our pain for our own good. Hardship can help us conform to the image of Christ (Hebrews 12:6-11). It can root out sin in our lives. It can refine our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7). And it can be a powerful demonstration of God’s glory (John 9:2-3).
We may not always know here on Earth how God will use our pain for our good and His glory, but we can trust in His faithfulness and believe that He is at work even when we aren’t fully aware of it.
We have the comfort of the Holy Spirit
Even though being saved won’t rescue us from pain and heartache, we have the Holy Spirit’s comfort to help us endure seasons of suffering. Jesus promised in John 14:26 that after He had ascended into Heaven, He would send the Holy Spirit, also referred to as the Comforter. In Acts 9:31, Luke mentions that the Early Church prospered in part because of the Holy Spirit’s comfort.
So, while our pain, hurt, and sorrow may run deep, we have the Spirit’s comfort to support us through our grief.
If you’re hurting this holiday season, don’t lose heart. We as believers can find hope and joy even amid the heaviest of sorrows. As 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 says so well:
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (NKJV, emphasis added).
Being a Christian won’t spare us from Earthly trials and sorrow, but it will give us reasons to hope even when we’re deeply hurting!