A friend still battles cancer. The fight has been relentless. His family has endured it all with him. He’s discouraged more than ever most days.
A family in our area lost six relatives in a fire. Another local breadwinner is out of a job. A Christian leader lost his pastoral role a few months ago and struggles to make enough in a new largely commission job.
Sure they’ll all likely try to squeeze some joy out of the Christmas holidays. They’ll smile here and there and hope that a gift here or there is actually wanted and appreciated. Family will get together but chances are the ones struggling hope they leave soon.
Christmas won’t be the same this year.
Though Jesus, the one whose birth we celebrate, will love each one, be near them and ultimately provide, He will not be the one most of them will seek out. Yes, He is here but He can’t be seen.
But we can. People who are hurting need someone with skin on to face the holidays. Let me suggest what they may need most.
Presence. Yes, I spelled it right. Not presents, but presence, our just being there for them on their terms, in their way, when they want us. We may just sit with them, do something fun or cover for them so they can rest.
Understanding. That means we don’t preach, offer advice or trite answers. We listen, we cry with them if appropriate, we leave our door open but don’t pressure them to come. We only understand what we can truly understand and don’t pretend that we can feel all that they feel.
Consistency. Lots of people will so things once at Christmas because that’s what people do at holidays. But hurting people need to know that we won’t be a one-trick-pony show with our compassion, but we’ll come back, follow up and not forget them once the lights, gifts and church services are over.
Who is out there in your world who needs Jesus in the flesh with them? Keep your eyes open because those people are closer than you think. And they just might need you.