With the Christmas season upon us, lots of emotions can be triggered. There can be feelings of joy and excitement or hurt and pain depending on your situation. Christmas, more than any other time of year can be especially difficult when you’ve lost someone special in your life. If this is your situation, I have some words of encouragement…
Remember the First Christmas
“Loss” was probably the operative word for Joseph and Mary during the first Christmas. They lost the emotional support of their family when it was discovered that Mary was pregnant and not married (c.f. Mat 1:18-25). They lost the physical support of their family when forced to leave Nazareth and travel to Bethlehem late in Mary’s pregnancy (c.f. Luke 2:1-7). They lost financial support when forced to leave Bethlehem and go live in a foreign country (i.e. Egypt) for the safety of Jesus (c.f. Mat 2:13-15).
The first Christmas was anything but a celebration with family and friends. Yet, it was out of all the struggle and loss we see God bringing about the greatest blessing to mankind! Through all that hurt and pain, God provided the most wonderful gift of grace, forgiveness, and redemption to the world. In other words, when it comes to walking with Jesus, a “loss” isn’t the end but is often the trigger for a new beginning. He is able to provide joy and peace in the midst of difficult circumstances (c.f. Phil. 4:4-7). So if you are struggling this Christmas because of a recent loss, remember the first Christmas and how God provided. In the midst of extreme difficulty, God brought about a new beginning that provided “joy to the world” and He can do the same for you!
Create New Memories
So often Christmas will trigger emotional feelings of the past going all the way back to childhood. These can be both positive and negative feelings depending on what you remember. Of course, we all know that there is nothing you can do about a memory because the event is over and stuck in time. That is how memories work. But if we aren’t careful, we can also find ourselves captivated by memories keeping us stuck in time. This is especially true when it comes to the loss of a loved one. So how can we avoid this from happening?
Psalm 96:1 – Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
This Christian life is all about experiencing the Lord in new and exciting ways. “Stuck” is not a Christian concept. When it comes to memories, we often forget that what we do today becomes a memory tomorrow. Five years from now you will look back on this Christmas with a memory.
The question is what will that memory be? Will you remember yourself remembering or will you have new and exciting memories? The difference will be determined by what you decide to do today. Are you moving forward, interacting with others, and celebrating Jesus in new and exciting ways? Or are you withdrawing, avoiding, and stalled in memories of the past? Losing a loved one can offer a legacy of inspiration and hope as long as it motivates us to move forward in life.
Remember God gives each of us breath of life for another day in order to move forward and be productive. So if you find yourself mentally or emotionally stuck this Christmas, break the cycle by forcing yourself to get out and celebrate Jesus in new and unprecedented ways. This may feel risky at first but it will keep you moving forward with the Lord and bring balance to all your future Christmas memories.
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