Many of us remember the Christmases of our childhood as being picture-perfect. I certainly do.
I grew up in rural Wisconsin, and both my parents came from large farming families. Christmas Eve was spent with my dad’s side on the Brooks farm, and Christmas Day with my mom’s side, on the Allbaugh farm. To this day, the most “Christmasy” scene I can imagine is a farm dusted in powdery snow.
At both places, the farmhouses overflowed with aunts, uncles and cousins. I remember mountains of food, piles of presents, and love and laughter in abundance. The only time the noise abated was right before opening the gifts, when we would have a time of Bible reading and singing around the tree. After these quiet moments of reflection, chaos erupted once again.
Just the thought of Christmas brings a flood of precious memories to my mind. I’m thankful for each one of these special times in my past, and I’m sure you feel the same way.
But as I grow older, I’ve come to realize that Christmas can also be the hardest, most painful time of the year for many people.
Why is this? Why does Christmas bring pain, along with the joy?
Because Christmas points out what is missing.
We might be able to push down the pain and pretend the missing things really aren’t missing the rest of the year, but at Christmas, it’s not so easy.
You might be missing a loved one. Their chair sits empty at the table while your heart stirs empty in your chest. And you nod and smile at the folks in the church when they ask you how you’re doing, but really—really, your heart is breaking. What you wouldn’t give for just one more Christmas with your cherished one by your side.
A son or daughter might be missing, and the circle around your tree is broken. You have spent hours on your knees begging God to bring them home, but so far, their place is still empty. No matter how hard you’ve tried, you haven’t been able to love them back home.
A gold band might be missing from your left hand. You hide the tears and smile bravely as the kids open their presents, but you wonder if you will ever feel whole again? And HOW does one keep smiling all through the long Christmas day when your heart keeps breaking with every breath?
If this is you—if the Christmas you are facing this year is more broken than perfect, God has some words for you.
He tells you to come to Him, to pour out the grief and sadness in your heart.
“Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:8
You don’t have to hide your grief with God, or nod and smile and pretend everything is okay. You can be real with Him. He invites you to kneel before the manger this season, seeking Jesus not only as the Savior of your soul, but the Healer of your heart.
God tells you that He will be close to you when you are broken-hearted.
“The LORD is near unto them that are of a broken heart.” Psalm 34:18
Look through the pages of Scripture, and see if you can find one person—one broken-hearted soul seeking God—that was turned away. Not once did Jesus turn away the weak, the broken, the hurting.
In Luke 4:18, we find the words of Jesus, telling us why He came to earth. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”
The whole reason Jesus came into this broken world was to heal our broken hearts. He invites you today to come to Him and receive His comfort, strength, and healing. And one day—in the not too distant future—we will be with Him in Heaven.
Where the only broken things will be the scars in His hands and feet, reminding us that He was broken so we could be healed.
“A Broken Christmas”
Jesus, it’s Christmastime—the time of joy and cheer.
But, Jesus, my heart is breaking.
Breaking all to pieces this year.
I know I should be happy, as we sit around the tree.
But, Jesus, my heart is hurting.
Please come and sit with me.
There’s an empty place at the table, and an empty place in my heart.
Tears fall down unbidden,
As the Christmas carols start.
Jesus, I bow at the manger, and ask You to hold me near.
I ask for Your strength and comfort,
These are the gifts I need this year.
I know one day in Heaven, all sorrow will be gone.
You’ll take this broken heart of mine,
And fill it with a song.
But right now it’s still breaking, and what I ask this year,
Is to hold me close, Lord Jesus.
Please come and hold me near.