Last Christmas I really struggled to find joy in the midst of losing our baby. We were only a few months out from our miscarriage and at times it just felt like God had forgotten us. Last Christmas I thought for sure I would be pregnant (or have a new baby) by this Christmas. And here we are again, our empty arms still aching. Our story is not unlike so many stories out there. There are a lot couples, like us, who are facing Christmas longing for their family to be enlarged, or grieving the loss of the child they hoped for. It's painful. It's lonely. And at times it feels like you would much rather curl up in a ball and forget the whole Christmas thing. It's hard to feel joyful when you feel so joyless.
One of the ways I have fought the temptation to forget the joy of Christmas is by reminding myself (through helpful resources) what Christmas is all about. It's really easy in this season to walk through Target, or watch a peppy Christmas special, and just go crazy from all of the sugary happiness. But Christmas isn't about all of those things (though I do enjoy them). It's about a deep longing that is fulfilled by a little baby born in Bethlehem many years ago. And I need to remind myself of that on a daily basis, in good times and in bad. I have more thoughts on that for another post, but here are some resources that have served me these last couple of weeks as I've walked through Thanksgiving, and now Christmas.
Hope in the God Who is Not Done, Pastor Sam Crabtree's first Advent Message at Bethlehem Baptist Church. I cried through most of this message. It was exactly what I needed to hear that day.
Joy to This Cursed World by Nancy Guthrie. I love everything she writes. It is always so biblical, compassionate, and honest. As I read this article I seriously felt like she was putting to paper everything that had been swirling around in my head.
This next link is not a shameless plug, but all of the sermons for our church are now online. The Sunday before Thanksgiving (November 20), my husband preached a message that wasn't necessarily about suffering, but in it he talked about what rejoicing always, and giving thanks in all circumstances, looks like. It was really helpful to me, especially leading into Thanksgiving and Christmas. And on October 2, our other pastor (Jeff Breeding) preached a sermon called "Faith in the Face of Suffering." Because I was in the nursery that day, I just listened to it last week. It encouraged me greatly, and if you are facing suffering right now I promise it will bless you as well.
We will always be learning what it means to suffer in a way that honors God. Satan wants nothing more than for us to "curse God and die" when everything around us is caving in. He wants us to forget everything and give up. And it's tempting sometimes. But one of the ways we fight that temptation is by filling our minds with the truth. We fight by remembering. I'm sure there are many more helpful resources out there that can serve a sorrowful or discouraged Christian this Christmas season, so these are just a few. But I pray that if you are fainthearted these resources will serve to strengthen your spirit even when the darkness around you seems too much to bear. God has not forgotten you. The manger is proof of that.