The holiday season is a difficult time for many to celebrate. If that is you, this post is for you today. I remember holidays when I found it painful to look at social media and see all the festive activities and view all the picture-perfect family photos, when in my heart I found it difficult to celebrate.
I want to speak to you right now and let you know that I understand. But more importantly, I want to assure you that God sees you, God is with you, God feels your heartache and God uses our seasons of pain.
He promises in his word to be near the brokenhearted.
“God is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
We all go through seasons of heartache
As I was reflecting on those holidays gone by, and thinking about some of my friends who are in their season of heartache, some who are mourning the loss of loved ones, some who have loved ones who are incarcerated, some who have prodigal children, and some who are in ill health, my heart was weeping for them when the Lord comforted me by reminding me that we all go through seasons, but fortunately, seasons don’t last.
He reminded me of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”
I’m so grateful for that reassurance. What that tells me is that there are seasons—seasons when we will be filled with happiness, and seasons when we will cry and mourn. But they are just seasons. While many families will gather over the holidays to celebrate, some won’t be joining in the festivities.
Yet God is there no matter what season you are in. It is but a season, and you will make it through.
God uses our seasons of pain
Just recently I was struggling with some of my own issues, some of my own pain. I cried out to the Lord, “I want it to end.” Very selfishly, and very honestly, I told Him, “I’m tired, I’m weary, I’m in pain and I’m ready for it to end.”
Catching me at a particularly vulnerable moment, in tears from the pain, I relayed my conversation with God to a friend who brought it into perspective when she reminded me that God does use our pain, and that God will use all things for our good.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)
Sometimes that verse can sound like a vague theoretical concept. When we are going through the deep, dark trenches of life and are struggling with life circumstances, or are enduring great pain, sometimes we wonder “will God really work even this together for good?”
God used my pain for the good of others
My friend reminded me of some of the ways that God has used my pain for the good of others.
First, I was in a bad accident a couple of years ago, and sustained some injuries which still cause me great physical pain today. This friend had been in an accident earlier in her childhood and heard about my accident and reached out to me in compassion. We became fast friends and she has gotten to know my heart.
When two of my books released, “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and the companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study,” she served on the launch team. God has brought many across her path who have been in need of hope and a hope-filled resource to encourage them in their dark days with depression, low self-esteem, despair, and anxiety. She has given away many copies of my book to those in need of encouragement so that they can find hope. She led a group of about 15 women through the Hope Prevails Bible Study to offer a Biblical perspective that there is hope even in the valley of depression.
She reminded me that while I still suffer physical pain, and continue to pray for healing and relief from the pain, had I not been in that accident, she and I would likely never have met. Furthermore, she would then not have had the opportunity to offer my books as a much needed source of hope to many who were in need.
The second example of good coming from my pain occurred when I traveled to visit my college-age son during his fall break. We were staying in a friend’s parent’s garage apartment for the weekend to get my son out of town for a couple of days. Over the course of the weekend, my pain escalated to the degree that I was almost incapacitated. My friend’s father offered to drive my son back to the university for me on Sunday to save me several hours of driving to and from the university and allow me to rest. It was quite a sacrifice on his part, and meant that he would miss church with his family that morning.
My friend’s father arrived back in town earlier than when church would normally let out, so he decided to stop and fill up his car with gas. At the gas station, he was approached by a homeless couple in need of help. This couple was really down on their luck and were not only homeless but had lost custody of their child. My friend’s father fed them lunch, got them warm clothing to protect them against the cold front coming in, got them a place to stay for a few days, and set them on the right track to get a new job. As a result of this gentleman’s help, they were able to re-establish contact with their child.
If I had not been in pain, my friend’s father would not have missed church to take my son to the university for me, and would not have been at the gas station to help the homeless couple which put them back on track to re-establish contact with their child.
While I don’t enjoy the pain, these are examples of how God is not only not limited by our circumstances, but uses our seasons of pain, our negative circumstances, and works all things together for good and for His glory.
God is working in your circumstances.
I don’t know what you are going through right now. They may not be the circumstances you want to go through. But I just want to encourage you that God can and will work all things together for good and for His glory.
This holiday season may not be the Thomas Kincaid picture-perfect holidays that we all long for, but I encourage you to press in and look for ways that He is working in your circumstances for good. Hold onto the fact that it’s but a season. In everything, there is a season, as it says in Ecclesiastes. It won’t last forever. He promises that.
Whether you are enjoying the company of family, celebrating the holidays on a quieter scale or perhaps you are struggling to make it through the holidays because of difficult circumstances, know that He is with you, He sees you, He loves you, and He already has the perfect plan to bring good out of your present circumstances.
May I pray for you?
A prayer for comfort during seasons of pain.
Father, during the holidays, so many are hurting. I ask you to please hold them close, just as you promise in your word to be close to the brokenhearted. Father I thank you that you offer the encouragement that we will go through seasons, but that we will go through them, and not have to stay in any one season permanently. Father, thank you that your word is not merely philosophy, but promises that we can hold onto for comfort and encouragement. Thank you that you promise that you will work all things together for our good and for your glory. Do that for the one reading these words now. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Depression doesn’t have to become a permanent part of life.
There is hope.
Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.
“Dr. Michelle Bengtson’s enlightening book, Hope Prevails, provides a master blueprint for overcoming negative thoughts and toxic emotions. Targeting a generation who feels lost and hopeless, this book provides meaningful help to everyone who has endured unexpected heartache, pain or trauma. Hope Prevails offers effective answers on how to overcome loss and reach for a life brimming with peace, joy and limitless dreams. Reading this book will drastically improve your life.” ~ Tracey Mitchell TV Host, Preacher, and Author of Downside Up