Not Alone

November 28, 2016
by Sylvia Alloway

1 Peter 4:12 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (ESV)

The second I started singing "O, come, O come, Emmanuel," I knew that I was in trouble. It was going to be difficult, of course, but this soon? The first hymn of the first Sunday in Advent, 2015, and already I was crying. How was I, a widow of only five months, supposed to get through the Christmas season without my beloved companion?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (ESV)

Paul has the answer: the church. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, a family. Very few blood-related families have within their circle every experience of life, joyful or sorrowful. But the church family does. There are mothers, fathers, single people, those who have struggled with every temptation, those who have lost husbands, wives, and children. No matter what our struggle, there is someone in the church who has gone through what we are going through.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a – Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. (ESV)

So I talked to a few of the widowed church people. All I had to say was, "How do you get through Christmas?" and the light of recognition lit up every face. Advice varied.

"Do something different instead of trying to recreate the usual traditions."

"Surround yourself with people and activity."

"Sing."

"Don't force yourself to participate in everything."

"Don't pretend to be cheerful when you're not."

"Cry whenever you need to."

Some of the advice I took, and some I didn't. But the point was not so much what was said as the outpouring of understanding and love that came from each person. Whichever advice I followed, I knew that I was not alone.

When we have received help and blessing, we are able to pass it on to others, so that they will not be alone. This is how the church is strengthened.

Prayer: Father God, Helper of the helpless, keep us alert to those who need encouragement. May our words and deeds be rays of light to shine on hearts in sorrow and darkness. Whether we give or receive the blessings of community, may Your church be strengthened in its mission to show Christ to the world. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Sylvia Alloway <snalloway@verizon.net>
Granada Hills, California, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Simply wonderful.


    Sylvia, a very enlightening word. Never quite thought of the church that way. Thanks for the insight.


    Sylvia, Truly grief grabs us when we least expect it. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Blessings.


    An excellent devotion and we realize it is a difficult time for you. The Lord will be with you, stand firm and we will pray for you. Please write again.


    When I began reading this, it was speaking to me as I’m having some pain issues following the hip surgery. But as I read further, it shouted out for my friend!


    May God comfort and strengthen you along the way. When we have suffered the emptiness and sadness of grief we are able to bring comfort and understanding to others.


    Some very good ideas….we often give the person grieving a blue candle to remind them it’s alright to be BLUE but to remember Jesus is the light and He will show you the way through this dark time.


    Thank you for the devotional. This Christmas is going to be very difficult after losing my sister, my mother-in-law and many dear friends over the past year. Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone.


    Thank you for your advice that is both practical and spiritual. As I was reflecting on what you wrote, I realize that your advice can also be applied to other situations that make us think we are alone. Thank you the encouragement to reach out.


    Sylvia, may I encourage you? All of your suggestions are helpful. Good for you for asking for help.
    It is five years for me now and it does get easier — not easy but easier and God is definitely the answer. Long distance hugs to you.


    This devotion is very touching and meaningful to me as I lost my husband recently. Tears came yesterday in church when singing the first hymn.
    I am not sure how I will make it through Christmas so I’ve decided to spend it with my son so I won’t be alone. Blessings.


    Dear Sylvia:
    What a beautiful devotional you have shared! My prayers for the Holy Comforter to minister to you are sincerely offered.
    One more “word of advice” — focus on what your husband has gained! This works amazingly well when I am grieving.


    Dear Sylvia,
    My condolences on your recent loss.
    You are blessed to have the comfort and support of your church family at this difficult time and all the advice was likely very helpful and probably coming from people who had experienced a similar loss. However, at times when all else fails, sit still and know that the Holy Spirit (the Comforter) is with you. You’ll feel a peace that only comes with the presence of the Spirit and it is with you always.


    Hello Sylvia,
    My sympathies on your husband’s death. As you expressed so well in your devotional, the holidays can be a difficult time for anyone who is experiencing grief. I have written an article that looks at grief through the eyes of my therapy dog. I have also found grief books to be very helpful to people who have lost a loved one.
    Merry Christmas to you. May you continue to find peace and understanding as you share your message with others. Thank you for doing that.


    Hello Sylvia – I just read your message in the Presbycan devotional and I wanted to thank you. It was just what I needed to hear. My husband passed away recently and I find myself crying every time I drive by houses with Christmas lights and decorations up. I have been wondering – how do I get through this? To make matters worse – my family are not speaking to each other. I recently tried to get them to resolve this situation to no avail. I pray to God for help, however I must accept “what I cannot change”. I sometimes feel like this burden is just too much I do pray often for help. You are right about finding support from those in your church family. I am blessed to have many caring / helpful people in my life and I must learn to reach out to them. Thanks.


    Dear Sylvia,
    Thank you for your devotional.
    I have never been married, but I can try to imagine of what you are missing, especially in your change from companionship to loneliness.
    I pray that
    God will fill up your time with useful and God-blessed things to do. And will comfort you.
    I like your title, “Not Alone.” Jesus has promised to be with us always “to the end of the age;” then there is heaven with him and all.
    I’m glad you have writing talent.
    And I hope and pray for you the strength to do some Christian volunteer work. There so many organizations who need a helping hand. They need both secretarial and physical assistance.
    I have found my volunteer work to be one of my favorites in my retirement years.
    Keep writing.


    Sing Sylvia, sing unto the Lord with all your heart even with tears.
    I lost my wife of 51 years a few years ago. I just went to church and sang His songs with my whole heart and I believe it helped speed up the emotional healing as I grieved.
    And of course the prayers of my men’s group plus others in the church really helped too.
    May God heal your broken heart.


    Dear Sylvia – thank you for sharing your burden with us, for sharing of burdens lighten the load. I too am a widow and can surely relate to your devotional. I pray that God will grant you strength to uphold you during your grieving and that He will send angels to surround and support you. God Bless you.
    PS: the only advice I would give you – don’t follow advice.

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