I wholeheartedly believe this truly is the most wonderful time of the year! Colorful strings of lights transform the ordinary home into a merry gingerbread house. Spicy smells and sweet treats tempt and delight. Personal stockings are hung and awaiting secret gifts. Packages sit adorned with bows and ribbons. Treasured ornaments array the tree. And most of all, Advent prepares our hearts to make room for our coming King.
However, it is also literally the darkest time of the year. The days are short and dreary. People fret over those calorie-laden treats. Some homes are missing a stocking this year, having said a heart-wrenching goodbye to a loved one. Money can be tight for those gifts we long to give. Something may have happened to shatter a cherished “ornament”, whether on our tree or in our heart. And most of all, Satan wants to keep us from making room for our coming King.
What do we do when our days aren’t merry and bright? What if you are suffering from chronic pain or illness, a sudden diagnosis of cancer, depression, the loss of a relationship– whether by death or by estrangement, loneliness, unemployment, financial hardship, or another heartbreak?
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I know the One Who does. And I know what He tells us in His Word. Take it to Jesus. Take it ALL to Jesus. Every. Single. Thing. Our little niggling worries and our enormous I-cannot-do-this crushing heartaches.
” ‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’ ” ~ Matthew 11:28-30
We don’t have to muster up the strength to hoist it onto Jesus. We need only come to Him, and He will gently take our burdens from us. And replace them with rest for our weary souls.
“casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7
He cares for you. God truly cares for you. He loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and desires to be in relationship with you (John 3:16-17). Talk to Him. Let Him weep with you (John 11:35) and collect your tears.
“You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?” ~ Psalm 56:8
Give God all the glittery shards of your shattered “ornament”, and ask Him to “paste it, Daddy”*. And in His own perfect way, and in His own perfect time, He will. Oh, it may not be the way you had hoped. But He guarantees His plan for us is good (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28), and He will be with us every step of the way.
“…For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ ” ~ Hebrews 13:5b
We sang the familiar hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”** last night in church. The words wrapped around my soul like a comforting blanket, a gentle reminder that I really bear too many burdens on my own…
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged— take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy-laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge— take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee, thou wilt find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded, there will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
Jesus truly is the reason for this season. He is the only way we can have “peace on earth, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14b) and “tidings of comfort and joy”*** — no matter our circumstances and feelings. Have you prepared Him room in your heart?
* from the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” (Zuzu’s petals)
** written by Joseph M. Scriven, 1855 (Public Domain)
*** from the Christmas carol “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” (Traditional English, 18th Century)