By Krysten Case, Contributing Writer
During the holiday season, everything around us serves as a reminder that we are indeed in the season of giving. Christmas decorations, special gift sets, and pretty wrapping papers are everywhere. We are encouraged to dig deep into our resources to give even more this time of year to help those less fortunate than us, to spread cheer to everyone we meet. The words of Jesus himself remind us that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35.) For this reason alone it may very well be the most wonderful time of the year.
But what about when we feel like we just don’t have much to give? I’m not talking about material things. We might be wrapping up lots of thoughtful gifts with pretty bows and ribbons, but living from a place where we feel exhausted and empty due to our current circumstances. So what’s there to feel wonderful about when we are trying to navigate one of those long, hard places in our lives?
The majority of this year has without a doubt been one of those long, hard places for me. It’s been one of the worst years of my life, frankly. My typically cheerful, upbeat personality has been replaced by a stiff smile, plastered on just to avoid having to talk about the deep discouragement I’ve been trudging through. I’ve been reaching and stretching to keep a hold of God, begging Him to show me the purpose in all these painful things that have happened.
Although I’ve seen glimpses of good things in the midst of the hard stuff, the few-and-far-between nature of these moments gets overshadowed often by the sheer weight of my situation. And frankly, no matter how many gifts I shop for and wrap and tag, the truth is I don’t feel like I really have anything to give. I’m running on empty, and for a girl who knows God has given her the gift of encouragement to use for His glory, I’m in very unfamiliar territory here.
My one consolation is that our God is The Great Recycler. He won’t allow anything to go to waste if we turn it over to Him. He will work things together for our good even when we can’t see any good at the moment with our own eyes. I’ve always believed this and have seen it happen countless times in my life and in the lives of those around me. But still, this year has made it so hard to keep that at the forefront of my mind.
I’ve been praying for God to use my mess to bring encouragement to someone around me, but I just haven’t been seeing that happen. Yet another discouraging thing. Then recently a friend confided that she has been rethinking her life due to what I’m going through, and it has made her look at her situation from a new perspective. She also said she was so encouraged by the way I was clinging hard to my faith in this difficult time (even though to me it felt as if I’d been barely hanging on) and allowing God to work in me in spite of how hard it was.
That’s when I realized that I did have something to give. Perhaps I had more to give now than at any other time in my life, when things were usually going just fine. Apparently when you find yourself blinking back tears while you desperately try to keep your eyes on Jesus, it turns out to be a great way to give hope to those looking on.
God can take our worst moments in our worst seasons of life and allow hope to be given to those around us. Allowing ourselves to be broken in front of others brings forth a twofold gift. Others receive hope from watching our faith be strengthened as we live through hard circumstances, and we get to live in a daily dependence on God that the easy times of life just cannot allow us to do.
If you are, like me, sitting on empty, feeling as if you have nothing to give, lean into God. Ask Him to show you how to be open to His leading during these empty times, and to depend on Him so you can be refilled with hope and faith.
I am worn out waiting for your rescue, but I have put my hope in your word.
God, we thank you for giving us the joy of knowing that You can use everything in our lives for good if we let You. Help us see in Your Word how you consistently used the broken lives of Your people to make things new and better. Show us glimpses of how you are using our lives to give the very best gifts–patient hope and strong faith.
Thank you to Krysten Case for contributing this article to the #RealHope series.
Krysten writes for her blog, Pray Then Learn
This article is part of the #RealHope blog series and Hope Is Holiday Devotional Study.
For information regarding our current and future studies, visit our Bible study page.