Grief and the Holidays - iBelieve Truth - November 21, 2023

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"I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted." Psalm 77:1-2, ESV

In a season that for many is marked by joy, the holidays can usher in sadness for others. The endless streams of movies, social media posts, and Christmas cards of families and friends can remind us of those we've lost or ignite complicated feelings about our own tense family situation. Combine this with the colder weather forcing people to be inside more often, and grief and depression can become a reality for lots of us. 

The psalmist who penned our key verse was very familiar with grief. His words provide us with vivid imagery of a person in pain who cannot be comforted by simply ignoring the pain or explaining that joy will come soon. The pain was there to stay. 

But notice how the writer responds to the pain. He doesn’t mince words. He tells God exactly what he’s feeling. He pours out his soul to God. He seeks God day and night. 

If you find yourself in a season of grieving, how are you responding to your sadness?

Do you stuff down your negative feelings and put on a strong face for others?

Or maybe you hold it all in only to find your melancholy spewing out sideways at unexpected moments?

Perhaps you vent your feelings to friends but get frustrated when they offer trite responses or Bible band-aids. 

I deeply understand these responses. And sometimes, temporarily containing our feelings is necessary for surviving the moment. But over time, the only way to alleviate the pain we feel from grief is to lament those painful memories and reminders to our loving, safe, unchanging God. 

So many of our wounds are relational.

We’ve been abandoned or betrayed by people who were supposed to love us. Our loved ones disappoint us when they make poor choices or don’t meet our expectations. Our friends and family members experience conflict, and our relationships deteriorate rather than bounce back with resilience. The people closest to us often have the capability to cause the deepest wounds. 

The Psalmist knew what we must realize: God is not like our earthly relationships. He never abandons or betrays us. He never lets us down because He never changes. He doesn’t shy away from our complicated emotions or leave the relationship when we experience hard times together. He is steady and sure, the rock we can build our lives upon. He is completely trustworthy so we can bring all our struggles, disappointments, and devastations to Him again and again. And our relationship with Him only gets stronger as a result. 

The holidays, specifically Christmas, are not only about the merry, bright, cheerful celebrations. No, Christmas is symbolic of the birth of our Savior. Fully God and fully man, born into human flesh. Jesus is not only a safe place to bring our struggles, but He also experienced the same heartache you and I experienced. He knew the pain of rejection and betrayal. Not only does God comfort us in our pain, but He also is intimately acquainted with the wounds of rejection by those He loved. Despite these rejections, He still submitted Himself to death on a cross with joy at the thought of being reunited with us in an intimate relationship for all eternity. This is the reason we celebrate Christmas. 

So, friend, if you find yourself not feeling merry and bright this holiday season, may I remind you that you can go to God with all your big feelings and He will hear you, comfort you, and help you. Remember that Christmas isn’t only about Hallmark movies, lights, and the perfect gatherings with family and friends. Rather, the holidays are a reminder that this broken world needs a Savior and God delivered. 

Let’s pray:

Dear Lord, 

Thank you that you bend down and hear our prayers (Psalm 116:2). Thank you that when we are inconsolable and heavy-laden with the troubles of this life, you are a safe refuge and a strong tower of protection (Proverbs 18:10). You don’t rush us to get over it; instead you give us a safe place to process our pain, and you provide us with comfort and deeper intimacy with you. Lord, I pray that this holiday season we will be mindful of our pain and the pain of others and remember the reason we celebrate! Thank you for stepping into our humanity so we could be with you forever. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Fermate

Ashley MooreAshley Moore is a writer and host of be the two™podcast. She is known for her relatability and for passionately writing and speaking about mental, emotional, and relational health from a biblical worldview. She has written for Kingdom Edge MagazineGuidepostsCrosswalkThe Secret PlaceenLIVEnThe Bubbling Brook and more. If Ashley isn't writing, you can find her with her husband, three children, and two floppy-eared Goldens on their south Georgia farmland. The best way to connect with Ashley is to grab a free devotional or Bible study and join her newsletter at free.ashleynicolemoore.com.

Looking for authentic conversations about how to deal with body image, insecurity, and comparison issues as a Christian woman? The Compared to Who? Podcast is the show for you! Twice a week, we tackle tough topics like dieting, disordered eating, weight loss, aging, body dysmorphia, and more from a practical, grace-filled, gospel-centered perspective. 

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