I was doing a little Facebook surfing last night and came across a picture that stunned me. A friend of mine, Judy, whom I haven’t seen in about 5 years was in this picture but it took me a minute or two to recognize her because her beautiful hair is all gone. She is completely bald. She is battling cancer.
The photo reveals the physical effects of this terrible disease she’s suffering through, but what was amazing to me about Judy was that she was wearing a huge grin and her face was beaming with joy. I immediately knew she was not smiling to put on a show or because someone was coaching her with say chee-eese. Judy was smiling because she is always joyful. She has a grace that overrides any hardship. That picture is such a huge testament to this woman who always has time for everybody and always has a kind word or thoughtful gesture. She’s joyful because she knows she is not meant for this world, but for her home in heaven and nothing that can happen here can sway her from that course.
She is much like another friend from high school with whom I keep in touch on Facebook, Liz. Just last week, she broke the sad news that her husband had just passed away. It was heartbreaking to read her announcement, especially so close to Christmas, but just as Judy is an example of strength and inner peace, so is Liz. The day after his passing, she wrote something rare for a grieving widow to write… that she could see in her husband’s passing many opportunities to praise God and draw nearer to him.
Both these women see these events in their lives as a new and different chapter in their personal story. Moreover, these women see their suffering as an opportunity to grow, become stronger and better for the experience. No doubt, they experience emotional highs and lows, but those emotions don’t make them doubt that God is close to them and taking care of them.I share these glimpses into the lives of people who are greatly suffering in case you are in need of some help facing Christmas during your time of suffering. If you’ve been through a divorce, especially one that is unwanted, celebrating Christmas can be so hard. It is definitely a tough time of year because the holidays seem to be a reminder of what is missing; what was supposed to be, but isn’t. But how do you turn the negativity of your situation into something positive?
Look For Your Hidden Gifts
Remember, as a child on Christmas morning, searching behind the Christmas tree, hoping to find more gifts? You knew there had to be more, or at least you had the hope and excitement of finding one last gift that hadn’t been opened yet. You can do the same when you are suffering through the loneliness of divorce.
Look behind your cross for hidden gifts… the blessings you don’t readily recognize. Have you come closer to Christ as a result of your divorce? Have you learned to rely more on Him through prayer and embracing your faith? Are you now free to live your faith to the fullest, whereas you were held back from that during your marriage? Was there an abusive behavior tearing the family apart that has now ceased since your ex-spouse left?
Romans 8:28 tells us God will work all things for the good of those who love Him. He will take the worst of circumstances and make them into something good, which means He has not forgotten you even though you may be feeling forgotten. He knows your struggles. All the loneliness you are experiencing now will be fruitful in the end if you let God use it and if you live it well.
Judy and Liz are great examples of finding the hidden gifts, and I encourage you to take heart in their stories. I hope it helps you find the positives in your situation that will bring you peace this Christmas.