The Christmas season can bring people a lot of joy. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus who is God with us. There are presents to give and receive. There is time together with family and friends. For many people, this time of year is full of cheer and joy despite some of the stress that comes with it.

However, there are a lot of people for whom this is a very difficult time of the year. Perhaps they have lost someone they love and are facing the holidays alone for the first time. There are others that find going home to be difficult because of strained or broken relationships. Others feel isolated and alone because they have no friends or family to speak of.

For as much joy as there is this time of year, there is also pain, grief, and anger associated with the holidays. Most of us know someone for whom this is a reality. It isn’t easy to know how we can help. Here are some practical steps for us to consider when we know someone is struggling during the holiday season.

Be Present: 

This can be difficult to do because of the busyness of the season. This is the very thing Jesus did. He sacrificed everything he had because He loved us, to be with us. In fact, the story of Christmas is in part about God literally being with humanity. Jesus is with us in our pain and brokenness. We should be with people in there pain and brokenness. We certainly can’t fix people, but when we are present with them we give them the space to share and we can help bear that burden. Ultimately, we can point them to Jesus, the one who can bring healing, hope, and peace to their lives.

Serve: 

Find a way to serve someone. Help feed the homeless. Visit someone who is sick or in prison. Donate time, food, or money to a local food bank. Offer to help a widow with work around the house. Offer to watch the kids for a single parent who may need a little time for themselves. Take a meal to someone whose schedule keeps them busy. Offer to take a friend you haven’t connected with for coffee and catch up. Sacrificially give some time to make someone’s day a little brighter and a little better.

Throw A Party: 

It doesn’t have to be a big party. It doesn’t have to be a fancy party. All it takes is taking a little time to open up your home and show some hospitality to some folks that you know could use a friend. Open your house and your family to people who you know will be alone. They may not agree to do it. That’s fine. Just create the space for the possibility and see what happens.

Fast and Pray: 

Advent is a season of waiting expectantly as Christmas approaches. It is a reminder that we must sometimes wait upon the Lord in expectation while moves in His perfect timing. One of the ways that we can celebrate advent is to take time to pray and fast for others that are experiencing pain and frustration during the holidays. You can help those that are struggling by using the advent season to fast and pray for others as you and the subject of your prayer wait upon the Lord together for healing to take place.

Invite Someone To Church: 

This is a time of year when people are a little more open to spiritual things. People that are struggling with something in their life could be searching for answers to life’s difficult questions. Invite them to church. Being in church doesn’t always bring answers that we are looking for, but it helps create a space where people can ask honest questions and God can answer according to His wisdom. Again, they might say no. Again, That’s fine. Just give them the opportunity. Give them a ride if needed. Make sure to meet them at the door. Help them understand what’s happening, especially if they have never been to church or it has been a long time. Help them to discover or rediscover what it’s like to be a part of the body of Christ.

Lord, help us to be mindful of those that may be hurting this holiday season. Help us to step into their lives in a loving way.

Questions for Reflection:
  1. Who do you know that might be struggling this holiday season?
  2. How might you help bear that burden?
  3. What are some other things you might consider to help others through a potentially difficult holiday season?

If you would like to read more from Jeremy, you can check out his faith formation and discipleship blog or his books Questions for Reflection and Holy Awkward Silence.