Friday, December 8, 2023

Holidays and Heartaches: Hope

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Ps 34:18 NIV

I recently found this verse (again) and have been leaning into its message each day for the last few weeks. 

Much has been written about the challenge of facing the holidays for those whose hearts are hurting. Often we think that holiday heartaches are those that result from having lost a loved one. But there are other causes of heartache, and the fact that the pain is a result of something that coincidentally happened during the holiday season just means it may feel like a little deeper hurt during a time that should be joyous.

Heartaches can come from various sources. And although a heartache is not necessarily related to the season, there’s no doubt that the season can make the emotions more intense. Joyful things are more joyous. Sad things are sadder. Hurts are felt more deeply.

As I was searching on the Bible app for a devotional that might help my emotional upheaval, realizing that I needed to allow God to “rescue” me, I actually searched for “heartbroken” and “crushed spirit.” Most of the devotionals that came up were about depression (not actually what I need right now), but one devotional caught my eye because I remember the author, Jim Cymbala. His devotional title didn’t seem to be related to my search. But as soon as I started reading Day One of “The Reason for the Season,” I realized that God had directed my search.

In “The Reason for the Season,” Day One, Jim Cymbala writes:

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…” (Psalm 103:2)

Beginning with Thanksgiving and on through the New Year, the holidays are a busy time, with lots of activity and happy moments. But the festivities can highlight our problems and heartaches as well, and even believers can end up with the holiday blues. 

…a lot can happen in life; and if we meditate on that, it will pull us down to the depths of despair.

Do you know that we have a choice today? We can choose to dwell on the negatives, or we can choose to praise God for all of his benefits. We can thank God for the gift of our Savior (which is the reason for celebrating Christmas in the first place); for giving his Son to die in our place; for forgiving our sins; for the gift of eternal life… That’s not counting everything else he gives to us, because every good gift comes from above.

And while it's true that even Christians go through difficulties on this side of eternity, we need to remember that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that he is greater than the mountains in our lives. Therefore,every day is a day when we can give our challenges to the Lord and begin to count our blessings instead of our problems and our sorrows.

Perhaps you are going through a difficult time, and it’s an even greater distraction to you at this time of year when the tinsel and the lights can seem to form a contrast with the way you are feeling. If so, why don’t you pray right now: 

“God, you know what I am going through. I love you, but I feel sadness today, and you know the reason why. Help me, Lord, to cast my care upon you. And then help me to forget none of your benefits! Thank you for salvation, for being a God who hears and answers prayer, for being a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and for sending the Holy Spirit to be my Counselor, my Advocate, and my Comforter!” 

Then choose to praise the Lord today, even through tears. As you bless the Lord and glorify his name, he will manifest his presence in your life, and this time of year will become a time of rejoicing in the true meaning of the season.


As I read this, I burst into tears, understanding that this was exactly what I needed to read at that moment, and realizing that God had directed my search. It was also a much-needed and emotional reminder that God cares about my pain. He collects my tears in a bottle.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

Psalm 56:8 NLT

It seems to my human mind that a broken heart is difficult to heal, and a crushed spirit even more. And I admit that a mountain can seem more imposing as I get older.

But do I believe and know that God can perform this healing in my heart? Yes, and though I do not know how, I do believe He can and will. 

So, this prayer (above, in the devotional text) is my prayer. And I DO choose to praise the Lord, even through tears.

*My experience is my own, but I share it here in hopes that someone who reads this will be encouraged and find something here that is uplifting in his/her life right now.

#Heartache #CrushedSpirit #Hope #ThankGodforBlessings #ForgetNotAllHisBenefits #CloserThanaBrother #ThankGodforSalvation 


Terra said...

Your home is so pretty and looks ready for Christmas. Your post and thoughts are wise, holidays can be tough for any number of reasons. I like the prayer you included, He is closer than a brother at all times, and we can make the choice to love Him. Bless your heart.

Barbara said...

Thank you so much, Terra, for your sweet comments. Merry Christmas!