“And Theirs Isn’t”
Christmas, like any holiday, can be a blessing for some and a painful reminder of loss and loneliness for others. We often hear advice on how to keep our chins up when we’re struggling through Christmas, but what if you’re like the majority who are having a very Merry Christmas and yet know of someone who isn’t? Guilt settles in as you realize that it could have easily been you in their shoes, but you were spared. Maybe the person who popped in your head is struggling financially, lost a loved one, or received a heartbreaking diagnosis; maybe their marriage is falling apart or their children refuse to come home for Christmas. Whatever the disappointment or pain, it’s hard not to feel guilty for being blessed while someone else is hurting. What do you do with this feeling of “survivor’s guilt”?
First of all, God does not pick favorites… He loves all of His children and has a magnificent plan for all of us. That being said, sometimes we are the ones struggling through the mire of this world, and sometimes others are. Everyone’s journey is different and being blessed doesn’t make us better or superior and those that are hurting are not being singled out or loved less. We live in a broken world but God uses what He will to mold us all into His image.
Secondly, there is a difference between guilt and conviction. Many times we get the two of these confused because the feeling is very similar. Guilt is not Godly but conviction very much is. Feeling bad because God has chosen to spare or bless you is like rejecting a beautiful gift that someone has given to you. It is NEVER God’s will for you to begrudge what He is pouring into your life. On the other hand, if you are feeling pressed on the inside because you want to reach out and help someone who is struggling, it may very well be the conviction of the Holy Spirit to get you to pour into someone in the same way God has blessed you.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Cor. 1: 3-5 NIV
Use that feeling of empathy to think of ways to be the love of Christ in that hurting person’s life. Offer to take them to lunch or out for coffee so that they can have someone to talk to. Perhaps you could make them a meal or offer to babysit their kids so they can get out of the house for a bit. Maybe an anonymous financial gift in their mailbox would be an incredible blessing to their lives. The Holy Spirit prompts us to reach out to His children in many ways, oftentimes by recognizing where we have been blessed and where others may be hurting.
Lastly, be thankful in all things, even the privilege of being able to see other people’s needs and the personal ability to help comfort those around you. This is not only Scriptural, but will allow you to know the difference between guilt and conviction in regards to other people this Christmas. Remember, it’s OK to receive and be thankful for a gift that Someone has given to you out of love… just be sure to use that gift as an opportunity to pay it forward.