What comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s? You may not celebrate all these holidays, but everyone can agree this time of year is a time of celebration. To many, the holiday season is a time of joy, family, generosity, and the celebration of Christ’s birth. To others, however, the holiday season brings immense grief and sorrow.

If you’ve lost someone tragically or if the relationships in your life have crumbled and grown distant, seeing the whole world celebrate with loved ones can stir up painful memories and emotions. It can be the loneliest time of year for those still dealing with loss, and you may even feel like you have to suffer in silence so you don’t dampen the holidays for others. Whatever the reason, the pain is real and not something to be ashamed of. Mourning is a natural process, and we as believers can be encouraged by Christ’s words: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).

Christ came to bring comfort to the brokenhearted and restore humankind to the Father, which He accomplished on the cross. However, in His time on earth, Jesus endured great humiliation, betrayal, pain, suffering, and sadness. A clear example of his suffering can be found in Mark 14:32-26:

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible, the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

How must Jesus have felt in this moment? He had already endured mockery, slander, and attempts on His life, but now He must bear His greatest suffering as an innocent man; a fate that had been foretold by the prophets, and even Christ himself. However, the mission of redeeming humanity was too important for him to give up: He loved us beyond himself and wanted, above all else, to spare us from our sin.

Christ bore the weight of His past and present, as well as His future. Thankfully, we only have sight of the past and our present: for God has our future in the palm of His hand. But even then, circumstances can be overwhelming. So, what do we as believers do when the weight of our pain is too much to bear?

Notice how Jesus handles His pain:

  1. He brings His disciples to a quiet place as support.
  2. He confides in His most trusted friends and acknowledges His suffering.
  3. He prays to the Father.
  4. He asks God to spare Him but affirms that He desires God’s will.

Taking Christ’s example, we can form a model of what we can do amid our own suffering:

  • Retreat to a sanctuary – a safe, quiet space – where you can process and pray.
  • Acknowledge your grief.
  • Confide in trusted friends, family, or elders that can support you where you are in your journey to healing.
  • Pray to the Lord – talk to your Father – and ask Him to help you.
  • Confide in God, but ultimately ask for His divine will in your life.

And additionally, speak the truth of the Scriptures – what God says about you – over your life.

The Father’s will for His children is greater than anything we could have imagined for ourselves. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

So, in this Holiday season, even when you may not be capable of laughter or a smile this year, take comfort in the knowledge that is okay to mourn, you are not alone, and that your Father in heaven loves you and is with you, always.

Are you interested in learning more about Christ’s birth, life, ministry, and death? Consider taking ISOW’s course “Through the Bible with T.L. Lowery: New Testament Narratives.” Visit isow.org to start your biblical education today!

–     Jennifer Ann Turner

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