If I could sum up 2016 with one word it would be loss.
Yes, we have had some wonderful blessings this year, but the blessings have been far outweighed by huge losses. And, as the holidays approach, the losses are weighing even heavier upon our hearts.
I’ve spent the last eight months doing everything I can to keep my faith strong, to trust God. But this week, I am losing the battle. I am collapsing under the weight of this year.
The last few days, I find myself simply falling apart. I can’t hold back the tears another moment. I can’t put a smile on my face and pretend I am doing just fine. I can’t hold in the grief that is filling every inch of my being.
Perhaps you understand. Perhaps you too feel as if this year has been a nightmare, destroying your peace and security. Perhaps you feel as if your very life is crumbling, collapsing. Perhaps you can no longer hold in the tears, no longer pretend everything is just fine.
And, perhaps like me, you aren’t ready to face the holidays. You can’t muster an ounce of holiday spirit, don’t want to hear the Christmas carols streaming overhead. Perhaps you are simply ready for the holidays to be over.
If you are consumed by grief this Christmas, you are not alone. Can we just take a moment to pray?
Lord Jesus, I am so overwhelmed. My heart is heavy, burdened. The losses this year are crushing me, overcoming my peace and joy.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18
I know you tell us you are close to the brokenhearted, but I don’t feel you. I feel lost, hopeless, abandoned. My spirit is crushed, but I don’t feel as if you are rescuing me.
I need you. I need you to draw me close. I need you to lift my spirit, to rescue me. I need you to take my grief and give me a spirit of joy.
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10
I know this is a season, a season that has a beginning and an end. But right now it feels like it will never end. I need hope, hope to believe you will truly restore me, strengthen me. I need hope to believe you will one day have me put together and on my feet for good. I need a vision of the future you have for me, a future of hope and blessings from you.
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7
As I walk through the trials of this life, I am learning yet again to trust you. I know when I come out on the other side, I will find you completely faithful. I know you will help me. Give me vision to see the many ways you are working right here around me, the many ways you are helping me. Fill my heart with joy so I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3
It’s so easy to become distracted, to focus on the many losses I have experienced. Forgive me. Help me to put my thoughts, my attention on you. Help me cling to you, to your word, to your promises. Help me be fixed on you because I know it’s the only way to enjoy your perfect peace.
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17
Take delight in me. Calm my fears. Rejoice over me. Help me feel your love in tangible ways.
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16
I’ve never needed your mercy and grace more than I do right now. I’m standing at your throne, begging you to pour it out upon me! Lavish me with your gifts, your goodness. You are my only hope!
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7
I keep giving you my worries, my cares, but it seems I always pick them back up again. Help me release them to you once and for all. Take them, Lord. I can’t carry them any longer. The worries and cares of this life are crushing me, sucking the life out of me.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. Romans 8: 26
I am weak beyond all explanation. I am collapsing under the weight of the pain and suffering. I have no words to pray, nothing except a broken heart to offer you. Help me in my weakness. Intercede on my behalf. Pour out your prayers, your groanings, over me. There are no more precious prayers than your prayers prayed over me.
But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19
When you take away, I know there’s a reason. I don’t understand your ways, your purpose. I don’t understand why we have suffered these tremendous losses. But I know you will make a way. I know you will take the past and do something new. I know you are always at work around me and in me. Do something new in me. I surrender to you.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
Father, you tell us all things work for good. I don’t see it right now. I don’t know how sickness and death can work for my good. I don’t have your eyes in this situation. But I do trust you. I’ve seen you take the most difficult, painful circumstances and use them for good. I want to believe you will take this year and do the same. Help my unbelief.
Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles. Zechariah 9:12
May I be among those who have hope, for You are my only hope. I don’t know how to get through these trials. I don’t know how to keep living in the face of these losses. Help me cling to you. Help me cling to the promise you have great blessings in store for me, blessings that greatly outweigh the troubles.
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23
Thank you that your mercies never end, that your faithfulness is perfect. Thank you that each day is filled with your love, your goodness, your grace. Give me fresh eyes to see the beauty of this life you have given me, in spite of the pain and suffering I am facing now.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5
Lord, thank you that your favor comes. There is an end to this pain, this suffering. I only ask you to sustain me through the night as I wait to see the morning sun.
As I walk through this holiday season, give me a fresh glimpse of who You are. Help me remember the suffering You experienced as You watched your Son on the cross, a gift given just for me. Help me remember with joy and wonder the amazing gifts we have simply because you gave, a precious baby born that Christmas morning. Help me focus my heart and mind on Immanuel, God with me.
You are my hope, my only hope, for Christmas and every day on this earth. May I always carry your hope with me. In Jesus name I pray, amen.