Christmas time is supposed to be filled with joy, peace, hope … and family. That last one isn’t necessarily what God says about Christmas in the Bible, but it’s come to be expected in our society. And, sadly, since so many don’t have good family relationships, Christmas time is often a time of loneliness, sadness, depression or even anger. This seems to be especially true for those who are living single. Whether they’re not married, divorced or widowed, it can still hurt like crazy to not be connected to someone special at Christmas … or any time. No one likes to be alone all the time. I knew the heartache of being single when I started out as a young pastor. Quite honestly, my solution wasn’t always very godly and pious. I would immerse myself in serving my congregation. I’d never spend any time at home except to eat a quick bite and sleep a few hours. It’s amazing how little you spend on heat when you never turn your thermostat above 58 degrees! But, underneath my busy routine, there was this aching need for real, lasting companionship.
What got me through that time? THE most important thing was a discovery from God’s Word, specifically from words like those of Eph. 5:31 & 32. As I studied this passage, the Holy Spirit finally broke through my bitterness over the lack of a wife and helped me see that I was ALREADY married … to the most perfect spouse. I was already betrothed to Jesus Christ! Jesus was the spouse who would ALWAYS do and give anything for me, ALWAYS love and forgive me unconditionally, ALWAYS touch and support me in His Supper. The love that Jesus had for me was perfect. He provided me what I really needed to be joyful, peaceful, hopeful and content. GRANTED, He didn’t always give me these things in the way I wanted, but He did give me those things when I kept Him first in my life as I was supposed to. My loneliness started to be replaced with extended times in Bible reading and prayer. My sadness was often turned to joy as I remembered I was already living eternal life with my perfect spouse. My anger was replaced with gratitude toward the one who loved me better than any person ever could. Of course, I’m NOT the perfect spouse. I did (and still do) turn my back on Jesus and sat in the doldrums of self-pity on many occasions … especially at Christmas time. But, Jesus never gave up on me. He would give me a word in Scripture or from the mouth of a friend to point me back to Him. His love never fails.
This is the hope for every single person on earth. Jesus Christ is the perfect spouse for ALL people … never married, divorced, widowed … ALL people! And, His love CAN break through the darkest hours of loneliness, depression and anger. When we humbly cry, “Lord, I can’t do this on my own!” He quickly responds with a tender and understanding, “I know. That’s why I died for you, rose for you, live for you and LOVE YOU ALWAYS!” His sacrifice and free forgiveness are better than what any spouse could ever give. His persistent, unconditional comfort and support is longer and deeper than any sinful human could ever manage. His incarnate support of our every bodily need through food, shelter, caring friends and His Holy Meal are more pure and lasting than the temporary pleasures offered by anyone or anything else on earth.
When you’re alone, depressed and sad it’s hard to see any reason for joy and hope. That’s where those of us who know the perfect love of Jesus can step in to help. We can never fill their emptiness in the way they really need it most. But, we CAN point them to the One who can and wants to. As we point the lonely, hurting soul to Jesus, He’s ready and waiting to welcome them into His loving embrace. And, by His mysterious and miraculous power, He’s able to break through the darkness and give them the light of life. He continually lifts the lonely to the realms of peace, hope and joy. He gives them the gift of REAL married life in its perfect form. Jesus, the babe of Christmas, is also the perfect Husband who will always be there for the one who’s living single. And, when you’re living single IN GOD’S WAY, you’re never alone. You’re ALREADY married to the perfect Husband who ALWAYS loves you sacrificially, unconditionally and incarnationally. As the Spirit fills us with this Good News, hope prevails. Christmas is never lonely again. It’s the celebration of the birth of true love that will NEVER fail us.