A note from Kelly King: I finally finished putting up Christmas decorations last night, and I’m ready to dig into some great Christmas preparation for my heart. In today’s article, Kaye begins a four-part series on connecting hurting women with this season. It’s not always the most wonderful time of the year for some women, but we can all have hope in the message of Christmas. If you would like to participate in a free online Advent Study, check out LifeWay Women’s option here.
The holiday season can be joyous and celebratory, but it can also be the most painful time of year for many. Last year I wrote four articles that connect hurting women with the advent season. With just a few modifications, they are still applicable this year. I am praying that if you are hurting this season you will find hope, love, joy, and peace in Christ. If you are ministering to someone in pain, may you do so in the full power and gentleness of the Holy Spirit.
We are entering a season on the church calendar called Advent. Advent is simply this: “An arrival that has been awaited, especially of something momentous.” Advent is celebrated in the church during the four Sundays preceding Christmas. Traditionally there is a wreath that holds five candles. One is lit each of the four Sundays, the fifth on Christmas Day.
- The first candle represents hope, as proclaimed through the Prophets.
- The second candle represents love as demonstrated in the manger when Love (Jesus) was birthed.
- The third candle represents joy as announced through the shepherds.
- The fourth represents peace as heralded through the angels.
- The final candle is the Christ candle which represents Him as the Light of the World.
In church history lingo, the first Advent of Christ is His coming to earth as a baby. The second Advent of Christ is His coming again. I imagine myself standing somewhere on that timeline looking back at the one, looking forward to the other, and still feeling a certain tension. The tension is that a busy town and a crowded inn wasn’t just a problem for Joseph and Mary. It is our struggle today as we still battle all that crowds out His presence in our hurried hearts. I’m convicted by that sentence. What is my heart so hurried with that it crowds out His presence? What is it for you?
This time of year reminds us there is tension; there are two sides of the same coin.
There is wounding and wonder (or pain and promise, if you prefer). In this life, we all hold both of these in one hand; they are two sides of the same coin. We hold this tension year round, but it is far more pronounced during the holidays, especially Christmas!
For the next four weeks I want us to glance at the four themes of advent and then flip the coin over and see it through the lens of someone in pain. It is my prayer that it will help you lead and minister to those who are hurting through the holidays.
Go ahead a light a candle (literally or figuratively) to represent hope.
What is hope? It is far more than wishes or dreams. It is what gets you up in the morning and allows you to sleep at night. It is what we stand on when our world is caving in and it seems as if our lives are falling apart. Without hope, it is difficult to breathe or stand or move.
Hope is first a verb. I need it to act and take action in my life. If your hope is tethered to the stock market, your career, or the stuff in your hope chest, it will fail you. Lasting hope is only found in being tethered to the One who loves you most—the Source of all hope—Jesus. He will hold you, help you, rescue you, deliver and delight you. He will never let you go or let you down. He sees you, hears you, knows you, and loves you—no matter what path you are on. On the spiritual journey of your heart, only God can bring true hope.
For people who are hurting and in pain, hope is hard to see. It seems to be “stolen.” Wounding, pain, and brokenness are all familiar “hope stealers.”
One of the best ways to shine the light of hope on the darkness of pain is to offer your presence. Shine the Light in the darkness. Be present with someone in pain; engage in her story. Give her time and space to tell you what is on her heart without judgement. You don’t have to be a trained counselor to be a helpful listener!
How is your “hope meter”? Have been disappointed so many times that you have given up hope? Has discouragement, pain, or loss clouded your ability to see hope around you or in you? What pain, trial, or difficulty are you waiting to be “delivered” from?
Do you know someone who is in pain and struggling to see the hope He offers? Try this:
- Find a friend whose hope is full and hang on!
- Spend time in the Word of God. It will transform your heart and mind and fill you with hope.
- Keep a “Hope Box.” Find Scriptures about hope, write them on note cards, and keep them in a box. Read them daily or as needed.
- Pray Scripture. Ask the God of hope to fill you to the full; pour out all that’s on your heart. He can take it.
“Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful.” —Hebrews 10:23
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.