December 20, 2016 | Faith

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For most people, Christmas is a joyous season—filled with family, friends, food, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God for the precious gift of His Son. It’s the end of the year, and in the midst of the hustle it’s also a time to slow down and appreciate the past eleven months.

But, for some, Christmas is a season of pain. And for many there is guilt that accompanies the pain because they know they should be focused on the beauty of the season and God’s great Gift. The pain is real and unrelenting though, and it comes from all kinds of places. The loss of a loved one or dear friend can bring a terrible pain at Christmastime. Memories come crashing back of previous Christmas seasons. Christmas traditions lose the joy that always accompanied them before a husband or wife or child or sibling passed away, or left.

For others, Christmas is a reminder of what they don’t have. Everyone else is married. Or, everyone else has children. Or, everyone else has a place to go where they are enveloped in belonging. The feeling of being left behind is overwhelming and particularly difficult as they scroll through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The burst of family craziness and fun in a Snapchat story might bring a momentary smile, but it’s immediately followed by an overwhelming sense of loss and feeling left out or left behind.

So, as we’re navigating this season and making plans, let’s all slow down enough to look around and see who might be hurting. Who has experienced significant loss this year? Who is navigating a first Christmas without someone who was dear to them? Is it possible to set a another place at your Christmas dinner table? Or, maybe it’s as simple as pausing before posting. Sometimes it’s as simple as choosing to treasure a blessing in your heart rather than post it on social media.

Who needs the care and love of your family this Christmas? Is there someone who needs a surprise bouquet of fresh flowers to cheer her heart this week? Is there someone who could use a shopping buddy to help overcome the paralysis of grief that’s keeping him from getting the things done he was hoping to get done before Christmas? Maybe someone wants to attend the Christmas service at your church but doesn’t want to go alone.

Life has some tough seasons, and we’ll all walk through them at some point, if we haven’t already. I think a very large part of God’s grace and mercy in our times of need is found through the people He places around us. He intends for us to be His hands and feet. So whose Christmas can you help make a little merrier and a little brighter this year? You and your family might just be the perfect answer!

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“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).