Christmas Spirit In Difficult Times

November 30, 2012 - Radical Hope, Serious Struggles

This time of year is filled with memories—most of them are sweet, some bittersweet, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. But I know that there are those who are struggling with the Christmas season for one reason or another.

Perhaps it’s the loss of a spouse, a child or a dear friend. Maybe a memory filled with regret for a mistake that can’t be fixed. In some cases I am certain that the hardship could be financial ruin or loss of one’s health. Regardless of the circumstances, there is hope.

I have learned that, in addition to trusting God during difficult times, one can benefit greatly by “getting back in the game”. It isn’t only the pain of loss and the realization that memories are all we have left of a loved one or wealth or health—it’s also the fact that these things are considerably harder to deal with during the holidays.

I’ve been given some practical advice on victoriously working through the Christmas season that I would like to share. I purposely didn’t say, “Getting through the holidays”. There is a big difference in surviving and thriving. The first is centered on me—the latter on others.

I know it sounds like I think I have all the answers. Believe me, I neither have all the answers nor am I under the impression that I do. But I have some suggestions that may help. They have made a difference to me, and to others as well.

Here is my shortlist:

  1. Sit down and focus on what I can do to help two other people struggling during this Christmas season. This may take the form of assisting them financially, baby sitting for free, or visiting them in the hospital. It may also mean coming to the aid of someone who has suffered less than I have, but is struggling more.
  2. Take stock in who I am investing time, money and my talents into, and add two more people I want to positively impact during the holiday season. This is often more difficult to do than it would seem, but worth the effort.
  3. Faithfully spend time in the Word each day, followed by unhurried prayer. It’s difficult for most of us to find time to do this, especially the unhurried part—but it’s essential. After all, it doesn’t require hours each day.
  4. Eat well. That doesn’t imply eating a large amount—it refers to eating properly. It’s amazing how this impacts our wellbeing and prepares us to do our best.
  5. Sleep well. Don’t go to bed late and get up the following afternoon. This is unnatural (unless you’re a college student) and keeps us from thinking clearly. The saying appropriately attributed to both Vince Lombardi and General George Patton, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all”, is true. In order to think clearly, sleep is essential.

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, these are simply suggestions that have made a difference in the lives of many.

Question: Do you have any suggestions that may help others cope with a difficult season? If so, please comment below.