Over the holiday break it seems that several of my friends were experiencing very difficult times in their lives. A man, who is like a brother to me, lost his father. Some friends of mine separated and are contemplating the future of their marriage. There were members of our community who had children in the hospital for emergencies. This just tells you of a few, the reality is I could continue on with the long list, but space for this article will not permit it.
Pain is no respecter of persons! In fact, my family experienced hurt over the last few weeks as well. Has pain visited your life recently?
It’s hard to see people that you love and care for hurting, isn’t it? While it’s always hard to walk through emotional stress and struggle anytime of year, the Christmas season, particularly seems to be overwhelming when difficulties arise.
Over the Christmas season, with all of these struggles taking place in the lives of so many people around me, I was reminded that pain doesn’t take a holiday. That sounds real discouraging and depressing, perhaps even hopeless as Christmas is considered to be the most joyful peaceful time of year. If we can’t have a reprieve from the stresses of life during this holiday, then what hope do we have?
The peace that I have found that helps to carry me through troubled times is found in the understanding that although pain does not take a holiday, neither does God. You see, this season of love is more than decorated trees, parties, food, family, friends and presents. We celebrate to remind ourselves of the incarnation. We put ourselves in remembrance that God became flesh and dwelt among men. In fact, he was to “…be called Immanuel which is translated ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:23.
Oh what comfort comes to us when we recognize and acknowledge that God is with us always. He doesn’t take breaks or vacations. His office is never closed and his “phone” is never turned off or lacking service. He can be reached when you can’t find a friend and when you feel lonely in the darkest of nights. He is with you! In fact, he never leaves us to work through our pain alone. We are never alone!
Yes friends, God never takes a holiday. He’s as close as the mention of his name for you and me. He hears us when we cry out to him. He cares about you. He loves you. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalms 34:18 NLT
No matter what you’ve walked through recently, or what you’re walking through today, know that God is with you. He hasn’t abandoned you and he never will. Sometimes you may feel as I do, that I need God with “skin” on. I need someone to talk to. Somebody to care for me. A friend to pray for me. When you walk through these difficult places as I have, please be encouraged that you can turn to God’s people, His church. Please don’t try to face life alone.
Pain doesn’t take a holiday. But the good news is that neither does God and his people upon the earth will love you and care for you in His name. May you have a happy and blessed New Year!
Scott Lee is a pastor at Bethesda Worship Center.