Over the next two months, we (as the people of God) have an incredibly unique opportunity to live those verses out with one another- and those who don't know Christ. While the holiday season is full of laughter, joy, and cheer- it also holds stark reminders of grief, pain, loneliness, and loss.
- Missionaries are some of the most forgotten about during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season. Just because they've followed the Lord in a very specific call, it does not mean it's without sacrifice and loss. It's hard. Despite the Lord's grace, strength, and provision, the loneliness and sadness is real. Get the email addresses of missionaries you or your church supports. Email them (check their time zone!) several times the next few weeks. Skype them! It's not too late to put a Christmas card in the mail! They love that you're praying for them, but they want to hear from you; they want to hear about your families and pray for you too. Remember them.
- Any time there has been a death in the family (whether that's the loss of a child due to miscarriage or a grandmother of 95 years old) the pain is felt in a different way during the holidays. One of the greatest gifts you can give to friends or family who are experiencing this is your presence and your love. Hear their stories. Cry with them. Put Romans 12:15 into practice. I have several friends who have lost one or both of their parents; holidays for them are very difficult. Open your home. Make your family their family. Love selflessly and without reserve.
- Singleness and infertility create unique struggles during the holidays that you don't understand unless you've been there. There's a very real grief and loss over something that you never actually had; and trying to articulate that is confusing. In your celebration of love with your spouse and children, remember (and be tender towards) those who desire that very thing but don't have it. That void is going to feel very real during this season. Remind them of the family, friendship, and love found in the body of Christ; remind them of the One who does fill any and every void, with His hope, love, and joy.
- The fact that refugees are all around us right now is of no surprise. It's not just with the Syrian refugee crisis that this has begun; it's been before that. Realize they are the "least of these," as are the orphans, widows, homeless in your cities. In your communities, search for ways you can give of your time and resources, and serve them this holiday season. Just as you've been given an abundance, give to them. They are hurting, lonely, scared, hungry, grieving, sad, and at times, feel hopeless. Share the love of Christ with them, and give them a reason to hope.
Christmas means Jesus came down and got involved in suffering. He hears your cries.