The Christmas season and all that comes along with this wonderful time of year is in full swing. Homes, businesses, towns and churches are decorated. The radio and church bells are playing Christmas music. There is an excitement in the air. Children are laughing and adults are smiling. Our calendars are filled with activities and just for a while life doesn’t seem so heavy, at least for some folks.

For some, the Christmas season is a difficult season to endure. It’s supposed to be a time of joy, but some people are struggling on the inside. I have learned that everything feels fake when you’re going through the motions of celebration while you’re hurting. For many this will be their first Christmas without a family member or friend that their heart is still grieving for. Others suffer from broken relationships and this might be the first Christmas the family meets in two homes instead of one. Others struggle with financial burdens and there is nothing available to share with others, they just hope to keep the utilities on at home. Many folks are facing a health crisis through this season that is supposed to be filled with great joy. Let’s not forget about those who are suffering from sin. It maybe their own sin or perhaps the sin of a family member or friend that brings a heavy burden to their heart. For some people the calendar says it’s Christmas, but they just aren’t feeling it!

In Isaiah 9:6 we read: “For unto us a child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be on His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Are you struggling to get into the “Christmas Spirit?” Do you need to be reminded that it is OK to be tired of pretending all is well? There is nothing wrong with tears. You miss loved ones who have gone away. It hurts when your life dreams turn into nightmares. Be thankful that we are not forced to weep as those who have no hope. Christians can still have joy even in the midst of sorrow. Everyone experiences tragedy, believers and nonbelievers alike. The difference is the believer has Christ with him. The Prince of Peace is with you!

For those who have been reconciled to God through Jesus, His peace is available to strengthen and encourage you today. Your circumstances may or may not change, yet God will change you to help you endure the circumstances that you face. The peace that Jesus gives is not the absence of conflict but calm on the midst of the storm. Don’t feel like you have to have it all together when life is falling apart. Don’t feel like you must ignore your sorrow when there is an empty seat at the table. Don’t feel like you can’t show concern over the health crisis that you are facing, even though you know God is in control. Don’t throw in the towel in the fight against sin. With God’s help you or someone you care about can find forgiveness and the power to resist sin through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

We often make the mistake of thinking that Christmas needs to be perfect without any pain or distractions. Jesus came because our world and lives are broken. Jesus came to bring peace to the suffering. Perhaps this Christmas is the perfect time for you to be reminded that the Prince of Peace is with you. You are not forgotten. You are not forsaken. You are loved. Turn to Jesus and let Him bring much needed peace to your soul today. Merry Christmas — The Prince of Peace is with you!

Chuck Sprouse, a lifelong resident of Greenwood, is the Senior Pastor of the Ninety Six First Baptist Church. You can reach Chuck at csprouse@fbc96.org or 864-543-2333.