This week, many of us will lift our voices as we do each Christmas to sing these words from Joy To The World: “No more let sins and sorrows grow nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.”

Many who sing these words will be battling the pain and heartache of the curse as they grapple with the presence of disease, despair, and death in their own lives and families. We all know families who are dealing with these realities as they navigate tragedies that have occurred in recent days and weeks. For others, this time of year scratches open wounds that have never fully healed with the coming of a painful anniversary. And still others battle the loneliness and heartache of a holiday without a loved one. Christmas will be hard for so many, and we can’t forget this reality if Christmas is not difficult for us.

As my heart aches this morning for a family navigating a tragedy just a few hours old, I thought about Scotty Smith’s “Advent Prayer For When Holiday’s Are Hard” from his Every Season Prayers book. If you would, use this prayer as you pray this week. . .

Dear Lord Jesus, I’m always thankful you give grace upon grace, but holidays make me even more grateful for this good news. I woke up today feeling the weight of many friends, and the wait of deep longing. Thank you for your heart-engaging, burden-bearing, peace-instilling love.

     I pray for friends who are facing their first Christmas on this side of committing a loved one to eternity. Death is a thief whose robbery is profoundly felt during holidays. Grant grace upon grace for those families, perhaps still raw with the loss and grief. No one is as compassionate as you, Lord Jesus; bring your tenderness and nearness to bear. Thank you for coming into our world to defeat sin and death—which you have magnificently done. The next time we will see you, you will eradicate sin and death—once and for all. Hasten that Day of eternal delight and dancing.

     I also pray for friends bracing to endure Christmas day, Lord Jesus. Old wounds can be easily triggered; messy relationships make it difficult not to pretend, but also painful that we have to pretend. Grant grace upon grace, in those complex scenarios and difficult stories. The world into which you were born was filled with madness and sadness. You shy away from neither. Surprise us with your centering, healing, liberating presence. May endearing moments actually trump the moments that must be endured. Sweeten the bitter waters of our brokenness with the new wine of your kindness.

     Grant grace upon grace to all of us, Lord Jesus. As we lift our hands to praise you, so we offload our burdens on you. You care for us, you love us, and you enjoy us, and that is enough. Hallelujah, what a Savior. Hallelujah, what a salvation. So very Amen we pray, in your tender and triumphant name.

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