Statistics prove the holiday season conjures up an emotional rough patch for scores of folks. For years I was not counted among them, thankfully. Instead, the holidays often ushered forth a profound sense of celebration, remembrance, and the joy of having a loving community. My husband’s family is the communal kind, so when a holiday arrives, it means we all better make our way to a family get-together. When I married into Erin’s family, I happily embraced their traditions. They would attest I’m known to get emotional during our time of “Thanks” at Thanksgiving. Since I came from such a broken background, Erin’s family became mine, and the sense of familial belonging tends to wash over me again and again afresh during the holiday season.
But that was challenged a few years ago when a terrible crisis hit our family, pounding hard against us; it was an unimaginable suffering. During the holidays, no less. All of us wondered how we’d overcome, much less survive. And, sorrowfully, the loss we experienced then still persists today. I’m praying the Lord makes haste to restore us, but until then, our daughter continues to live her life estranged from us. For the most part anyway. She reaches out every so often, but it’s quite spotty. It’s hard as a mother when your child refuses the help they need. She’s an adult now, making all of her own decisions. Letting go as a parent can be excruciatingly painful.
The first Thanksgiving of her absence around the table felt entirely wrong. Where is my girl? She’s supposed to be here! It was hard. I wondered if I’d ever feel the joy of Thanksgiving again, and Christmas, too. How would I survive the holidays with the painful stab of her gone? As I purchased all of her sister’s Christmas presents, I mourned being a mom of two. Having an only child felt strange. I despised how life had left us. My heart was broken into what felt like a thousand pieces.
But, miraculously, a few days before Christmas proved to be a turning point. By God’s grace, I turned a corner. For a few reasons, actually. For one, I felt like I owed it to her sister and to her daddy to live the life I so readily teach others: to trust God by living by faith. Instead of giving my emotions so willingly over to awful holiday dread, it was time I kept my eyes on Jesus by trusting Him not only to work out our situation, but also to deliver me into an oasis of joy. God is a supernatural God. His ways are supernatural too. I needed to trust His empowering. Because, here’s the deal: The profound thing about God is just as surely as He can transform any situation, He can transform a mood. Secondly, what I also knew was I owed it to God to take Him at His Word. Throughout Scripture, God tells His people not to fear but to trust Him. In unimaginable circumstances He often asks, “Why are you so afraid?” The invitation from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation is to trust God with our lives. In every season, and through every trial, will we choose to trust Him to hold us by the hand and to see us through?
So, that’s what I did. I jumped in with both feet, surrendering all by trusting Him. What I knew then, and wholeheartedly believe now, is God’s ways work. In the middle of our madness. In the middle of our storms. We can trust Him to hold us together, broken as we are, and to deliver us from whatever sorts of dread are yoking us. The Book of Jeremiah chapter 20 verse 11 speaks forth a gorgeous promise that has the capacity to blanket us in comfort during our various stressful situations:
“The LORD is with me like a violent warrior.”
You better believe He is!
Do you need the LORD to be a Warrior this holiday season, to all-out annihilate the dread in your life? Perhaps your situation is not like mine but you still have reason to dread. Maybe someone you love has passed away. Or you wish your family was close. It could be you long for companionship and the holidays amplify the sense of loneliness you often feel right around now. I don’t know what your situation is, but I do know a God who promises always to be with us, rain or shine. In good times and in bad. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, our Savior wants to turn our frown upside down by transforming our dread into an impressive show of deliverance. I don’t want to be another holiday statistic. Do you? We have God on our side. Let’s seize the Lord’s joy as our strength.
Tammie Head has taught God’s Word for more than ten years. She never imagined God would use her as He has when she first answered God’s call on her life to serve Him. Today, by God’s grace, Tammie speaks to women of all ages nationwide, while also writing Biblical resources to help women grow in their relationship with God. She is the author of Duty or Delight: Knowing Where You Stand With God and More: From Messes to Miracles. Tammie and her husband, Erin, have two adult daughters, two Maltipoo pooches, and they happily call Houston, Texas home. You can find out more about Tammie at tammiehead.com.