Dear God,
It’s that time of year again: the time of year when we focus our attention more intentionally on celebrating your son’s birth and all that you gave us in a swaddled-clothed babe.

But Lord, it’s also that time of year that leaves so many feeling without. A time when we reflect back and feel the sting of loss of those who have gone before, and the conversations and smiles and hugs that will never again be had. A time when we think about the way things are that seem so different from the way we thought they would have been. A time when our outer festive selves don’t always match the way our inner grieving selves really feel.

While for many it’s merry and bright, for so many more, it’s hard and lonely and full of despair. Some are so full of anger and pain right now, they cannot even pray. For many, this Christmas brings with it loss in the form of marriages through divorce, loved ones through illness and death, security through financial ruin, and even the loss of hopes and dreams through situations beyond our control. It makes my heart heavy and sad, and tears quietly roll down my cheeks.

Father, at a time when the focus is often on trying to find the perfect gift to make someone feel loved and special, what do I have to offer to those who have real heart-felt needs? Black Friday sales can never offer goods that last or fill the void and longings of the hurts behind the eyes I see every day.

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6-7 NIV).

Jesus was born into a position of lack: without any clothes, without a home, without a bed… He had nothing. He was born into the most meager of existences, yet He was the King of Kings.

I think God allowed this so that Jesus could relate to each of us no matter what our circumstances – no matter how rich or how poor, accepted or rejected. It isn’t about how much or how little we have this Christmas, but truly, it is all about Who we know.

Jesus was born on Christmas day to bring us to a knowledge of His father; to show us the way to eternal life. He provides us with hope through all of life’s trials and difficulties.

As I ponder what to give this year, He brings me back to the gift wrapped in swaddled cloth: Him. I can give Him. Through my smile, through a hug, through my time, through my words. That’s the only gift that will satisfy all our wants, all our needs, all our longings not only on Christmas but every day.

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”
(Matthew 6:33 NIV).

What gifts will you give this year that will really matter? Really make a difference?