How to be a good friend during the holidays
A guest post by Betsy St. Amant
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NIV)
The holidays can sure be an exhausting mix of joy and despair, can’t they?
It seems like for every strand of twinkling lights, there’s a tear dripping down a cheek. For every plate of gingerbread cookies, there’s a bill on the table that can’t be paid. And for every Christmas carol sung with gusto, there’s a whispered lie of hopelessness.
Hard times, heartache, and grief are not prejudice and pay no attention to the calendar month. Pain hits who it will, regardless of it being a bright summer afternoon or a winter Christmas morn.
Jesus even told us “In this world, you will have trouble.”
Think about the people in your life—so many struggling with:
People searching for jobs, for freedom from addictions, for significance. People waiting for clear medical reports, for positive pregnancy tests, for their spouse to come home.
There’s trouble everywhere we look. In our backyards, in our bank accounts, in our relationships.
I’m so glad Jesus didn’t stop there when He talked about trouble. I love the rest of that verse. “But take heart…I have overcome the world.”
And that’s what our main goal should be when ministering to friends hurting this holiday season—ushering them to the Overcomer.
When someone we care about is in pain, we understandably want to fix it. But too often, in the heat of the moment, this attempt at fixing comes across as displeasure, frustration, or impatience toward our loved one. It can also express itself as judgment and actually serves as salt on the wound, rather than the intended Band-aid.
When I was going through my divorce almost three years ago, I had so many well-meaning people tell me things like “I know it’s hard, but just focus on you and your daughter right now.”
I know they were trying to comfort and point out the good I still had in my life, but it made me feel worse. Because not only did it not fix the fact that I was suddenly single after nine years of marriage, it made me feel like I was a bad Mom for not feeling like my daughter was enough. I felt like I was a failure because I missed my marriage.
I finally, years later, figured out that a wound doesn’t render a blessing null and avoid—and vice versa. (<— Tweet this)
I could love, appreciate, and be grateful for my daughter with every ounce of my heart. But that didn’t change the fact that I was at that time grieving the loss of my marriage and fighting a loneliness gap that I was used to having a spouse fill.
My daughter wasn’t meant to fill the void of a spouse. Just like being married doesn’t fill the void of infertility. It’s a separate longing.
Jesus alone fills those needs, in His ways, in His timing, and you know what? The process and the specifics look different for everyone.
That’s why we have to be careful when we try to fix our friends’ pain. Those people who spoke those things to me didn’t mean to heap guilt and shame on my head. Of course they didn’t. Just like we don’t meant to hurt when we say trite answers such as “It could always be worse” or “God has a plan” or “Just be grateful for what you have”.
Trite answers certainly hold a merit of truth. But in the whirlwind of pain, they tend to serve as splinters instead—nagging, irritating annoyances that do more harm than good.
The good news is, we don’t need to have all the answers. All we have to do to be the best friend possible is simply point our friend toward the One Who does have the answers.
This holiday season, if you have a friend who is grieving, look for tangible ways to direct them to Jesus.
- Invite them to church.
- Supply them with a new journal and their favorite color pen to vent their emotions.
- Bake their favorite dessert.
- Write Scriptures on cards and mail them.
- Offer to go for a drive and promise to only listen and not say a word.
- Surprise them with a giftcard for their favorite hot drink.
- Pray for them.
- Offer free babysitting.
In summary, be the Gospel. Be the hands and feet of Jesus. Be available.
And be quiet, so He can do the talking.
Ponder: Who do you know that is grieving this holiday season? How can you be the hands and feet of Jesus to them?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for being the overcomer of our troubles in this world. Help me to keep my mouth shut when I want to give trite answers in response to peoples pain and instead help me to reach out to them and be your hands and feet. Amen.
About the author of this devotional
Betsy St. Amant has a heart for three things – chocolate, new shoes and sharing the amazing news of God’s grace through her novels. She lives in Louisiana with her adorable story-telling young daughter, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. A freelance journalist and fiction author, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is multi-published in Contemporary Romance via Love Inspired and Harper Collins (Zondervan). When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing. Find out more about her at betsystamant.com or say hi on Facebook and twitter.
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