I had the privilege of joining a group of older teens in a special Carol Service at St John’s Hospice (cancer patients) tonight. A visit there is not easy at the best of times. It is a place where your soul is often ‘invaded’ by a great sense of humility as well as an overwhelming desire to say very few words.
Tonight was even more painful. Although I am sure that we have brought a ray of hope to the residents – I struggled not to choke with emotion as we sung the carols and listened to the readings. A gentleman was obviously moved and his wife was gently stroking his forehead in an attempt to comfort him. It was almost a maternal gesture.
Spare a thought and pray tonight for those to whom the whole Christmas festivities are anything but a happy time. I recall how several years ago, as my dad suffered a heart attack and a stroke – my Christmas time was like no other before. Grief, fear, loneliness and helplessness, not joy, were the bywords for that season. And for many people it is just like that tonight.
Consider one of my dearest friends, M., who has just left the hospital bedside of his brother in law who is in a coma after being diagnosed with a brain tumor just a few weeks back. And then, there is my friend A – who will spend Christmas as a separated dad/husband – and that not by choice… Many of you will know people like V. – who has recently being widowed and surely would struggle with the empty house more than ever.
I would not dare to pretend that I ‘feel’ the pain, anguish and maybe even sadness – that all these friends of mine feel. Yet, there is a part of me that is confident that my God does understand – more than I could imagine. He ‘gets’ it – He has been there. And He cares. I know that because that is what the Christmas story is all about: Philippians 2:5f
‘Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!’
Join me in prayer and look out for opportunities to encourage people like that that God has brought/placed in your lives.