As a former lonely man who dreaded the holidays, I know encouragement from a friend can make all the difference in the world. Perhaps you can share your life with a struggling friend. Whom can you bless this holiday season?
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You may want to read:
- Help Me Help My Difficult Relative
- Dealing With Difficult Relatives During the Holidays
- The Relatives Are Coming; What Am I to Do?
The holiday season is a time of reflection and gratitude for the things the Lord has done in our lives. Though gratitude steadies our hearts throughout the year, the holidays have a particular way of stirring up reflective thoughts about God’s active goodness in our lives.
I wish I could say it was that way for all our brothers and sisters. There is a darker side to the holidays. The brokenness sin brings into our lives never takes a holiday. What is supposed to be a time for rejoicing is a time of sadness for some people.
Some of our friends will endure their first holiday without someone they love. Divorce, separation, death, loneliness, and relational conflict are usually at their most acute during the holidays. As you enjoy your families and friends during this season, there will others doing all they can just to muster a smile, hoping the season will quickly end.
One of the worst years of my life was the first year I spent without my family. Our separation happened eight months earlier. That was painful enough. But when the holidays rolled around, the pain was nearly overwhelming.
Though that was 1988, the Lord always reminds me each year how it was back then and how it is for many people today. If the Lord places someone in your mind, please do something for them. Let your care be practical.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Below is a case study that is part of our Distance Education Training Course. My students have to “counsel” 48 Case Studies throughout their course.
No thanks for Thanksgiving
This Thanksgiving is Biff’s first without his wife and children. Mable left him this past spring, the culmination of a mediocre marriage that muddled along for seventeen years. Biff has three teenage sons, all of whom live with their mom, all of whom blame him for the divorce. For the most part, Biff has repented of the sins that he brought into their marriage.
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He has been re-establishing himself in his local church, and most of the people have gotten used to his new lifestyle without Mable and the children. But it has been hard for Biff to mesh with his old friends. He is too old for the singles and too single for the older couples.
He has been tempted to act as though he is worse off than he is, so people will remember his plight, hoping they’ll not lose interest in him.
This weekend many of the church families are traveling or have made arrangements with family and friends locally. To date, no one has included Biff in their plans. Mable and the boys are going to another state to be with her parents. Biff calls you for help and encouragement.
Case Study Questions
- What would you tell Biff?
- How would you help him theologically?
- What would be your practical advice for Biff?
- If you have had a similar experience, what would you have liked to have happened to you or what did others do for you that helped you through your difficult time?