A Prayer for When Giving Thanks Is Hard
By Molly Law
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The holidays are never cut and dry. Even though it feels as though life should be put on hold for the most joyous time of the year, unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. I cannot describe what Christmas time does to me. It fills me with such unbridled joy — joy that I remember feeling as a child, joy in the way it brings families together. I await this feeling all year long.
As I tend to feel more depressed during the Summer (I know few who feel this way during the summer rather than the winter), when the weather starts to turn, the leaves begin to color and then fall, and I feel the descent of the holidays, it erases that season and I feel joy in life once more. Of course, as I said, it’s not that simple. Tragedy doesn’t wait for the holidays to be over — it doesn’t hold off until the day after Christmas to strike.
Tragedy, any sort of tragedy, is terrible no matter what time of year it is, yet it doesn’t contrast with “the most wonderful time of the year” like it does around the holidays. When something tragic happens with the backdrop of Thanksgiving and Christmas, it adds another level of grief that would not be there at any other time.
It can evoke shame when the whole world is telling you “‘tis the season to be jolly!” It can cause us to hide and suppress our feelings when we are gathered around the Thanksgiving table with our families — not wanting to be the one to place a dark cloud over the festivities.
Life cannot and will not stop for anything. Whereas Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful times to give thanks and celebrate the birth of our Savior, they shouldn’t be times where we ignore someone else’s pain all in the name of Christmas cheer. It can be tempting to ignore, especially if our loved one does not volunteer what they are going through and just enjoy the holiday season.
This time of year is not just about the gifts, the songs, the food, and the decorations. It’s a season of remembrance, it’s a season of giving and serving those around us just as the King of Kings left his home in heaven to come to earth in the most vulnerable form — a baby — to grow, live, and die a brutal death on a cross for us.
This year, the holidays will not be joy-filled as many have gone through unimaginable tragedy. I pray that as their family, friends, and coworkers that we show love, compassion, and understanding. I pray that we do not ignore anyone’s pain all in the name of having the perfect Christmas. I pray that our homes will be welcoming — that everyone knows that no matter what has happened, it is a safe place to be. I pray that no one will feel like they have to skip the holidays because they do not want to “bring everybody else down with them.”
Please, God, be with everyone who has experienced tragedy this year and close to the holidays. I pray that this season it doesn’t have to be either, or — for life is an amalgamation of darkness and light. I pray that right alongside of pain that joy can be felt in the same beat. I hope everyone knows that it is okay to feel both at the same time. Please bring us comfort and peace in our time of mourning. Give us people who are caring and understanding. I pray that we turn to you to feel your overwhelming presence, where you cry with us, you comfort us, and take our burdens as your own.
Thank you for revealing your love for us by sacrificing your Son for his entire life on earth and in death. As a Father, I can’t imagine how acutely you felt that pain yourself. I know full well that you know our pain and can shoulder anything we go through. I pray that we, as Christians, follow your example and live in your image for those around us.
We love and trust you with all of our hearts, our Father and Savior.
In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Christin Lola
Molly Law is the Editor of C.com. She has a Master of Arts in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling, UK, where she studied and lived for a year in Scotland. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Professional Writing from Gardner-Webb University. Her editorial career includes Senior Editor of a bimonthly magazine for the nonprofit ACA and Editorial Assistant at Luath Press in Edinburgh, UK. She enjoys reading 18th-century British Literature, creative writing, and traveling. Check her out here.
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