My husband and I traveled to Colorado last year to celebrate Thanksgiving with my son and his family.  In the midst of experiencing the day-to-day routines, I was overwhelmed with feelings of love and joy.  We played outside, shared meals together, experienced the Santa Express Train, and laughed a lot.  We had a wonderful time.

But for some people, holidays are a time of stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression.  There are those who have lost touch with family members.  For other people, memories of past holidays leave them wishing the upcoming holiday season was already a distant memory.  There are some who, rather than feeling disappointed, shut down any hope for happiness.  And for those who lost a dear loved one, the holidays bring heartache and a longing to see them again.

It breaks my heart.  And I believe it breaks the heart of God, regardless of the season.

First, let’s consider the lonely widow or widower.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s been a few months or several years, their memories flash back to the times they shared with their husband or wife.  They put on a brave face, but hidden behind the mask is the dream of sharing a meal and a few precious minutes with others who genuinely care.

And what about the single parent?  They bravely try to do the work of two parents as they work, cook meals, do laundry and meet the needs of their children, all while trying to find time for themselves.  It’s a tall order, and they’re exhausted from trying to be everything for everyone.

Next, what about the young college student who is away from home?  They’ve probably made friendships, but there is an ache from missing their family and friends.

Another person to consider is the woman or man standing on the corner holding a cardboard sign asking for help?  In these days it’s hard to know whether the need is legitimate or not.  But bottom line, it doesn’t matter what their situation is, you may be the only expression of God’s love they experience.

How do we serve them best?  The answer comes from God’s Word.

“Let all that you do be done in love.”  1 Corinthians 16:14 NLT

As Christ followers, we are called to love.  Unconditionally.  Sacrificially.  Whole-heartedly.

Sometimes it’s hard.

It takes energy.  It takes persistence.  It takes perseverance.  It takes the love that knows no bounds.

In our humanness, we aren’t capable of sharing that kind of love.  But by the grace of God, through the only perfect source of love, we can help bridge the gap between heaven and earth.

And that’s not easy either unless we have experienced the ultimate expression of love.

“We love each other because he loved us first.”  1 John 4:19 NLT

So today I encourage you to see through the eyes of love.  See yourself as His precious child, the one He chose and loves.

Lay aside the need to be filled and be a channel of love for God.  Listen to the Holy Spirit.

Reach out to the widow or widower.  Let them share stories of their loved one – even if you’ve heard them countless times before.  Invite them to dinner.  Mark the anniversary of their loss with a card.

Look for an opportunity to serve a single parent.  Babysit while they shop.  Purchase a few gifts for them to give their children.  Send them a note about how you see them being examples of Christ in their children’s lives.

Encourage a college student with an inspirational card.  Send them homemade brownies or cookies.  Connect with them via text to find out how they are doing.  Offer to pick them up for lunch or dinner, your treat.

Serve at a local shelter or food pantry.  Say hello to the people you see on the street instead of pretending they aren’t there.  Choose to pray instead of judging them.  You may never know what their story is and in the end, it doesn’t matter.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross for us to be comfortable, He sacrificed His life so we could experience His love and grace and share it with the world.  What will you do?

My suggestion?

Love Always