December isn't a happy month of celebration for everyone.
There are those among us - neighbours, work associates, family and friends - whose lives will be shattered without warning in the midst of Christmas preparations. Others must face a first anniversary of loss, and even more will be confronted by yet another year of sorrowful reminders, relational estrangements and the anxiety of re-lived anguish.
Would you pause with me today and pray for them, that they would feel the strength of Heavenly arms lifting them in loving comfort and drawing them close to God's heart?
For He catches their every tear and He hears our every prayer, and though they must still walk through the valley of this difficult season, His protective shield of strength and comfort can carry them moment by moment.
Perhaps you are one of these dear souls whose heart is fragile and aching?
Dear heart, know that right now, all around the world, you are being lifted before God, before the very throne of grace from where all comfort flows.
If I could reach through this screen and hug you I would, because I do understand loss and sorrow and continued grief over many years and how especially difficult it is when celebrations are upon us, but that's not possible so 'tis only these words I have from my heart to give you.
You will get through this. You will pass through this valley and you will see the clouds part and the sun shine through again. It may not be today, tomorrow or next month, but it will happen.
The valleys do come and go over time, dark stormy seasons loom again and again, but they will always pass because Light dispels the darkness, even a flicker.
This is what I always tell myself when I'm so lost in the darkness that there seems no way out - "Jenny, this too shall pass...ride this out like a wild storm on the sea...remember the calm and remember that it will come again...hold on to Jesus and trust He's right here with you even though you can't see Him or hear Him or feel Him...remember the Light...the dawn is coming again."
What helps me may or may not help you.
You may need to speak to someone about your darkness and if it's swirling you into a place that's scary then please reach out, don't try and go it alone.
You are so unique, individual and exclusive, and your experience is also unique to you alone because it is bound up in the experiences of your whole life, not a single instance.
Pray, seek God...reach out if you need more. Don't be silent. Don't live in fear, or anxiety.
You know every heart reading this today, intimately, inside and out, every moment of their life from sorrow to joy.
Lord, we join together in prayer to ask that Your merciful love would fill and surround and comfort each hurting soul today and through December, that your Holy Spirit would strengthen them as they walk their valleys, that they would clearly see Your Light every step of the way so that they would not be frightened or anxious or overwhelmed.
Fill them with peace that surpasses all understanding and grace beyond human measure. May kindness and thoughtfulness be shown to them each day, and if they have needs that cannot be expressed please send your servants to fill those needs.
And Lord, teach all of us to be more like Jesus so that we can help those in need and not be so caught up in our own lives that we are blind to the suffering of others.
In Christ we pray,