I know some of you are praying you’ll make it through Christmas — just make it through — not anticipating anything good will come from gathering with extended family and friends. It has become a cliche — right next to the article on what second-graders are excited about for Christmas is the article on the rise in depression during this last month of the year.
You know the sadness is real. While you change the diaper of a teenager, or administer complicated medications, or prevent your non-verbal ten-year-old from hurting himself again, or explain yet again the complicated life of your five-year-old without a diagnosis for her disability, your nieces and nephews and young friends are playing and running and eating, happily talking about the toys they want or travel they’re excited about or things they are doing in school. They easily do things your child will never do, no matter how many therapies or medications or prayers are offered.
Or maybe the disability in your family member means you can’t gather with other loved ones, and the heartache is almost more than you can stand.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15, italics added)
More than that, he endured and is victorious!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2, italics added)
And there are some of you who can’t see it. There is still hope!
From Pastor John’s book, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy,
It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him. This is the way Paul thought of his own strivings. He said, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12). The key thing to see in this verse is that all Paul’s efforts to grasp the fullness of joy in Christ are secured by Christ’s grasp of him. Never forget that your security rests on Christ’s faithfulness ﬁrst.
Our faith rises and falls. It has degrees. But our security does not rise and fall. It has no degrees. We must persevere in faith. That’s true. But there are times when our faith is the size of a mustard seed and barely visible. In fact, the darkest experience for the child of God is when his faith sinks out of his own sight. Not out of God’s sight, but his. Yes, it is possible to be so overwhelmed with darkness that you do not know if you are a Christian — and yet still be one. (216, italics added)
Jesus understands. Jesus is victorious. Jesus is the answer. May you find him, and in finding him, find hope and peace in these hard days.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)