Holland & Usry December 2019

REMEMBER THE GRIEVING AND THE LONELY For most of us, Christmas is a season full of joy and excitement. There’s just nothing like it, especially if you have young children like me. All four of my little ones eagerly anticipate time with their extended family, celebrations, no school, and oh, yes — the presents.

But for some of us, it’s just not the season to be jolly. For some, this will be the first Christmas without a dearly loved spouse or family member. The empty chair at the table will be a piercing reminder of irreplaceable loss. Others struggle to provide for their families, just when it seems the world celebrates material abundance. Then there’s military families who endure the absence of a brave service member. Still others confront a life-changing injury (as I see so often in my work), addiction, and other reminders of what they DON’T have in the midst of a season devoted to what we DO have. If you’re a Christian, it’s part of what we celebrate — the entrance of light into a dark world. And it certainly doesn’t need to be spectacular, as proven by the birth of our Consolation to a peasant teenager in a barn. So, this Christmas, reach out to someone who’s having a hard time. You might find you receive unexpected joy from it. Here are a few thoughts to encourage you. 1. It’s not your job to fix it. And suffering people know that all too well. So don’t worry about “finding the right words” or buying a perfect gift. This is about letting them know you’re present for them — available, concerned, and eager to help and encourage. For those suffering, the thrill of Christmas may only intensify pain and isolation. That’s where we can come in.

we miscarried. We’d left town and returned to find it at our door. It meant the world to us that a friend had the thought and took the time. That was four children and 15 years ago. I can still see the cake box on our doorstep.

3. It’s about them, not you. If you’re writing a note, make the first word “you.”

4. They don’t need a sermon. They need to be heard and understood. In one of the darkest times of my life, a friend said to me, “Rob, I don’t know exactly what you’re going through, but I want to. I’m here to listen.” I felt like an elephant had been lifted off my chest.

5. What can you do?

• I’m a big fan of writing a note that expresses I’m here to listen and help, then sharing some inspirational words, often from the Bible. It’s one page, and they can do whatever they want with it.

Taking food is always a winner.

2. It doesn’t take much. One of the most poignant gifts Mamie and I ever received was a pound cake from a friend after

Sometimes a simple phone call can make an enormous impact in the lives of the grieving.

This Christmas, reach out to someone who’s having a hard time. You might find you receive unexpected joy from it.

As we enjoy the Christmas lights, and hopefully the True Light, let’s be a light for someone in the dark.

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