Your Voice: Helping the hurting during ‘most wonderful time’ of year

Here are a few simple suggestions that can help. First, open your eyes. Those who are hurting or lonely are there, often right in front of us, but we can be too busy doing Christmas that we do not even see them.
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Your Voice: Helping the hurting during ‘most wonderful time’ of year

Christmas is often hailed as the most wonderful time of the year. However, for many, the season is far from joyful. More than a few people would rather sing “Blue Christmas” than “Joy to the World.” Studies indicate a surge in loneliness and depression during the holidays compared to other times of the year.

The reality is Christmas, for many people, is anything but a joyful time of year. There are any number of reasons why people suffer from the Christmas blues — death of a loved one, divorce, memories of holiday abuse from past years — and even mental illness or depression. While most people are basking in the warmth of memories from past Christmases, some are shivering from the chill of broken Christmas promises or the absence of a cherished family member who once filled a seat at the Christmas table.

Art Werry.

More to the story

To make matters worse, we can be so into our own joyful Christmas celebration we might overlook those around us who are not filled with a festive spirit. Or if we do notice them, we may be tempted to simply dismiss their lack of cheer as mere Scrooge-like behavior.

However, there is often more to the story than they are simply a Scrooge who hates Christmas. The pain and grief experienced by many this time of year are often rooted in legitimate struggles. The stresses of real life do not magically disappear with a chipper “Merry Christmas!”

If we take our role as Christ’s ambassadors seriously, we should make sure we aren’t so caught up in our own celebration of the holidays that we miss ministering Jesus’ love to those who are seriously hurting around us.

Here are a few simple suggestions that can help.

First, open your eyes. Those who are hurting or lonely are there, often right in front of us, but we can be too busy doing Christmas that we do not even see them. Do not assume that those with a “Bah! Humbug!” demeanor prefer to be that way.

Second, open your heart. Yes, our Christmas list is usually cram packed with more than enough chores and responsibilities for us to do. But busyness is no excuse for us to neglect our responsibility to love our neighbor as ourselves. Make room in your heart to love someone who may have no one else to share the joy of the season.

Third, open your circle. Hurting people will not come to us and ask if they can crash our Christmas party. Often, they will need more than one invitation. Don’t be afraid to be persistent.

No one wants to feel like they are an imposition, so do your best to convey a “the more the merrier” attitude.

Get out of the comfort of your own Christmas bubble and go share the joy of the season with someone who may be feeling truly miserable today.

Let’s not settle for mere Christmas wishes when so much more is needed. God came near when Immanuel entered our desperate situation. We can do no less for the hurting people around us today.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written published by the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.

People aren’t going to know that we are followers of Jesus by our Facebook posts or Instagram posts. They will know that we’re followers of Jesus by how we love one another. I encourage you to lead with love. Be the first one in your family (and) workplace to serve. See John 13:35.

Bryan Gill, author
“Jesus Is: A 31-Day Devotional on the ‘I AM’ statements of Jesus”

“I didn’t want a book with just a good message. I wanted one that teaches a biblical principle,” said O’Shea Lowery, speaker and author of “Jack and Theo: One More Stocking.” “I want people to know about Jesus and His love.”

“I have to. I really want that Super Mario Lego set, but I realized that giving is more important than getting something for yourself,” said 6-year-old Ethan Gee of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on giving money from his shark bank to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

“In the Nativity story, the message of hope and salvation is delivered with utmost simplicity and clarity. … Apply this principle to your church communication efforts,” said Mark MacDonald, church communication consultant.

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

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What would the world be like if Jesus had never been born?

By Adam B. Dooley
Jackson, Tenn.

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like had you never been born?

Frank Capra’s 1946 Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” grapples with this question through the eyes of a fictional man named George Bailey. When the building and loan banker finds himself at the end of his rope on Christmas Eve, he concludes that everyone would be better off if he had never lived. Then, while standing on a bridge, contemplating his existence, an unlikely turn of events prevents George from ending his life.

Adam B. Dooley.

The character’s guardian angel, Clarence Odbody, appears onscreen to give the struggling family man an opportunity to see what his town, Bedford Falls, would be like without his investment in the lives of so many people there. Not only is the quaint community unappealing apart from the influence of one man, but the city is also a renamed slum called Pottersville.

Power of one life

Remarkably, every person that George Bailey loved suffered greatly without his presence and influence. His mother ran a boarding house as a bitter old woman. His wife was a lonely librarian. His Uncle Billy made his home in an insane asylum. His war hero brother did not live past childhood and every soldier he saved in World War II died on the battlefield. Overall, the people of Pottersville were more harsh, intolerant and criminal than the citizens of Bedford Falls. The world without George Bailey was not a pretty picture.

The inspiring tale reminds us of the power that one life wields, as well as the significance of the smallest deeds. But I want to ask a greater question with consequences unparalleled on the big screen: “What if Jesus Christ had never been born?” How would the world be different? How would your life be different? Is a wonderful life even possible apart from Him?

Finding answers

Thankfully, the Apostle John answers these questions in the first chapter of his gospel. Admittedly, the world would be a much different place in numerous ways had Jesus never been born (and none for the better).

Let’s focus on one glaring difference laid down in these verses.

Without Jesus, it would be impossible to receive the grace of God. Referring to God’s Son as the Word, John reveals that Jesus is the eternal God (John 1:1) who made the heavens and earth (John 1:3). Incredibly, the only begotten of the Father became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14a). And in His goodness and love toward sinners, Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14b).

Grace, by definition, is our receiving what we do not deserve from the Lord. His grace is poignant with forgiveness. Jesus came, not to leave us in our waywardness, but to rescue us from it. He saves those who are dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). He sets free those held captive by wickedness (Isa. 61:1). He cleanses sinners like you and me, leaving us whiter than snow (Ps. 51:7).

Truly, through Christ alone we find grace upon grace (John 1:16).

We should also note, however, that the grace which Jesus offers always comes by way of truth (John 1:14b). For some, such a statement goes without saying. Yet we dare not overlook the realization that though the light of God’s Son shines in the darkness, most of the darkness does not comprehend it (John 1:5).

Despite His being in the world that He made, most people on earth do not know the true Jesus (John 1:10). The errors of the past have a way of repeating themselves in every generation.

Today, we are often eager for grace without truth. In an age that prefers to speak of your truth or my truth, the God who claims to be THE TRUTH seems uncouth and offensive to our modern sensibilities (John 14:6).

But according to Scripture, those who find grace must walk through the doorway of truth. Jesus is gracious and loving, offering salvation to all who will believe upon His name (John 1:12), but redemption requires abandoning our old way of life. We must repent and believe the gospel in order to follow Christ (Mark 1:15).

His grace does not scoff at the notion of truth. His grace does not contradict truth. His grace does not diminish truth. His grace inhabits truth and runs from lies.

His unspeakable gift

A world without Jesus is a world without grace and truth. Perhaps, above all else, what I’m most thankful for this Christmas is that we don’t have to imagine living in such a place. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift (2 Cor. 9:15).

EDITOR’S NOTE — Adam B. Dooley is pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee, and author of “Hope When Life Unravels.” Contact him at

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