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#holidays #christmas #lonely #loss #God #serving #jesus #hope #grief #pain #help

The holidays can be lonely times for those who have suffered losses of loved ones or are missing families, friendships, or relationships due to extenuating circumstances. As a single mom, for many years I had to send my daughter across the country to visit her father and family at Christmas. As a little girl, she would ask me to fly with her because she was afraid to fly alone and wanted me close. Due to the expense and time of travel, it made more sense to stay then to fly back and forth. Many Christmases, I would be in a hotel room by myself. I never minded taking the trips because it helped her feel safe and secure knowing I was close, but it was very lonely for me. I was still walking out my healing from being divorced, I was missing family and friends back at home, and most heart-wrenching, I was missing spending Christmas with my precious daughter.

As I stared at the pop-up Christmas tree that I set up in my hotel room, I cried out to God in my loneliness. The room was filled with His presence and He began to show me how precious this time could be Him if I changed my perspective. As I started to worship and pray, Jesus began to heal my hurting heart and gave me the rest I needed body, mind and spirit. He filled me with His love to cover all of the empty and hurting places.

The following year, in the same hotel room, I asked Jesus how I could show His love to others. I started making care kits for the homeless and evangelized on the streets and started volunteering at a homeless shelter where I served food, set up bedding, prayed with people and helped raise funds and donations for the shelter. When I was wasn’t serving, I was spending precious alone time with Jesus. People starting donating towards my trip and my flights, hotel and supplies were covered! I made lasting friendships with the people at the homeless shelter. The time of loneliness I dreaded the most became a time I looked forward to each year. The last time I had to spend Christmas alone out there, God gave me an open door to share the Gospel with 40 men who were waiting to go inside to sleep at the shelter that night. He gave them prophetic words and many came to accept Christ that night. God used this season to not only change me, but also to serve others for His Kingdom!

That season of our lives is now over, but I will never forget the transformation in my heart that took place. As we approach Christmas, if you are feeling the pain of loss, or the longing to be with your friends and loved ones but circumstances will not allow you to, here are 4 encouraging steps and verses to bring comfort to your hearts.

1. Cry out to God in your pain. It is easy to try and be strong in front of others, but God already knows your hurt and the season you are in. Jesus experienced every pain you are encountering and understands. Call to Him for help in your brokenness. “In my distress I called on the Lord, and cried for help to my God”. Psalm 18:6 MEV

2. In your alone time with Jesus, allow Him to heal all of the empty and broken places. If you have Jesus, you have everything you need to experience wholeness. “He heals the broken in heart and binds up their wounds”. Psalm 147: 3 MEV

3. Approach this season with a new perspective of expectation, joy and thanksgiving for the life Jesus died to give you, trusting Him to help you each step. “O Lord my God, I cried to you, and You healed me. You have brought up my soul from the grave; you have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit…Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me; Lord be my helper.” Psalm 30: 2-3, 10 MEV

4. Ask God to give you opportunities to help others who may be hurting. You can serve at a local soup kitchen, shelter, nursing home, veteran’s home or orphanage. You can invite people going through similar circumstances over for dinner. Wherever or whoever God calls you to serve, if you go about the business of the Father, He will take care of yours! “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 MEV

As we prepare to celebrate the day that Jesus entered this world to bring us hope, let this holiday season replace your brokenness, loneliness and sadness with His healing, hope and joy. Jesus will be with you each step of the way, and God can use this time to transform your life and others for His Kingdom, while bringing you the healing and restoration you need.

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#solitude #purpose #god #pain #restoration #seasons #hope #devotions #bible #jesus

Throughout the Christian walk, people often experience great earthly loneliness. The enemy uses rejection, unrealistic expectations, and abandonment from others to convince God’s children that have been forgotten and that God caused the pain to somehow punish them. As believers, we are living in the last days and in critical times. Satan is deceiving Christians to doubt God during times of suffering. During the great falling away of the Church, people are turning away from God and trying to fill their loneliness with the temporary pleasures of this world. Christians young and old are trying to find love and acceptance through pornography, partnering in unequally-yoked relationships and filling their voids with addiction and self-harm.

Some have left the Church because they suffered unexpected losses of relationships or deaths of loved ones and have blamed God. Some have isolated themselves from God and others and have taken roots of bitterness, hatred and revenge on others who have hurt or abused them. Some have become angry with God because they did not yet receive their healing, get married, get the job they wanted or have children the way they thought they would.

After suffering the pain of being raped, going through two painful divorces, losing my home, suffering financially as a single mom and experience great pain, rejection in friendships, ministry and working relationships, I understand earthly loneliness. I often thought my solitude was a punishment from God. There were times I questioned the purpose for the pain. If I loved others with the love of Christ, why did they reject and abuse me? If I was faithful in my relationships, why were they unfaithful back? If I tithed and gave to God, why did I struggle to make ends meet? If I was loyal at work, why was I isolated and falsely accused?

At the end of all of the questions and the tears, I had decisions to make--Was I going to believe in the goodness of God? Was God’s Word true? Did Jesus exchange my earthly loneliness and pain at the cross for eternal joy and peace?

After isolating myself, trying things in my own strength, experiencing rejection and loneliness from others, and buying into the lies of the enemy, I needed to wake, up, repent, take my stand, trust that I was connected to God no matter how lonely I felt. Because Jesus took my pain on the cross, my temporary earthly pain would be exchanged for eternal joy. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us” Romans 8:18 (MEV). God has turned around and is continuing to restore all of pain I experienced. From those seasons of pain my ministry and calling were birthed to those around the world needing hope of His restoration.

The very gifts of freedom, peace and joy that Jesus died to give are willfully being exchanged for doubt, fear and resentment. It’s time to wake up to the enemy’s scheme!

Here are 4 ways to transform that earthly pain and loneliness into Kingdom purpose:

1. Remember that Jesus understands all of our pain and suffering. He experienced every pain we have and will face. “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we did not esteem him” Isaiah 53:3 (MEV). If we think we are alone in our pain and loneliness we are reminded that Jesus experienced great earthly loneliness and rejection from his family, His followers and those who He suffered and died for then and now.

2. It’s time to stand up and get rude with the devil! Jesus gave us the gift of salvation. We need to stop exchanging our gift to a thief! Satan is the one who robs us and brings destruction. It’s time to stop fighting God and others, and put the enemy in his place, which is under our feet! “Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” Ephesians 6:10-13 (MEV).

3. Thank God for replacing the pain with His purpose. As we remember God’s goodness, trust that He is doing a great work inside of each of us during these lonely times. God did not cause your pain, but He will use it. He can use it to strengthen our faith, build character, protect us from world influences and refine us when sin is exposed. He brings healing to our hearts when we connect with Him, and sometimes everything else falls apart or withers away until we are face-to-face with our heavenly father who is the only One who can fill the void. The pain we feel now will be turned around for His good. We were never promised a life without pain, but were promised that God will walk us through it. He will take that pain, help us overcome and then use it as testimonies to others who are experiencing the same suffering and loneliness. “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (MEV).

4. Remember that the pain and loss we experience in this life is temporary. Those in Christ who stand with Him and His Word until the end are promised that one day all pain and loneliness will be gone, and limitless joy, peace and belonging abounds for eternity! But after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called us to His eternal glory through Christ Jesus, will restore, support, strengthen, and establish you” 1 Peter 5:10 (MEV).

Our earthly pain and solitude are only for a season. Take heart, take a stand and connect to the One who will bring you victory, restoration and hope. Jesus understands our pain, but he died and rose again to exchange it for our beautiful testimonies and eternities of everlasting joy and acceptance!

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