Promises for people who are homesick at Christmas
Not long ago, a college student asked me with total earnestness, “Does saying goodbye to your family ever get easier?”
Having spent the last 13 years 650 miles from my own family, I told her the honest answer is, no. You make new friends, and, after a while, they become part of your family. But you never stop missing the family you left behind.
Few things trigger homesickness as easily as being away from loved ones at Christmas.
Over the years, I have cried behind the wheel when “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” came on. I’ve left parties to catch my nephew on FaceTime. One time, I silenced my dad’s call because I knew he wanted to pass the phone around the family Christmas party, and I was trying hard not to think about all the fun they were having without me.
I don’t cry like I used to, but it’s not because I long for my family any less. If anything, as my nieces and nephew get older, I’m more aware of all the milestones I’m missing.
The difference these days? I’m learning to let God meet me in my longing and remind me of His promises.
Five Promises for Anyone Who is Homesick During the Holidays
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock” (Isaiah 26:3-4, NLT).
Sometimes, trusting God causes us to leave the familiar behind and move to a new city, a new state, or even a new country. God promises peace to those who trust in Him. If you’re where God called you, you are where you need to be. Rest in that. Remember why you moved, and reflect on how God has been faithful to you in this new place.
“Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life’” (Mark 10:29-30, ESV).
Jesus knows what you gave up to be where you are. After all, Jesus also left his home in heaven to pursue God’s plan for His life.
Moving away from family, especially a family you love, is one of the hardest things we’ll ever do. But Jesus promises that the result of our obedience is greater than anything we give up. One day — whether on earth or in eternity — we will be able to look back at the homesickness we experienced and say with confidence: It was worth it.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).
You don’t have to be ashamed of your homesickness. Longing is the result of love. If you’re bummed you’re missing Christmas with family, it means you love them.
Take your cares to the Lord. He won’t think you’re weak or ungrateful. On the contrary, God wants to help. He promises to sustain us when we come to Him with our heartache. So why face your longing alone? Let the Lord carry your burdens. The homesickness might still sting, but it will not overtake you.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).
When you’re separated from family and feeling alone, remember: Jesus came to us. First as a baby, then as our risen Savior.
Jesus understands how it feels like to be human and fragile. He loved us too much to abandon us. So when Jesus returned to heaven, He sent His Spirit as our counselor and guide. Because of this, we are never completely alone.
No amount of miles can separate us from Jesus’ love. We belong to His family, and His Spirit is with us wherever we go.
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
This is one of Jesus’ last prayers before He died. One of the hardest parts of being away from loved ones is knowing that Jesus could change the situation if He wanted to.
Jesus could come back right now and take us to a place where there is no crying or sadness or pain (Revelation 21:4). But Jesus knows that the hard stuff refines us. It draws us closer to Him and strengthens our faith (John 17:17). And those are good gifts.
So instead, Jesus prays that His people wouldn’t fall for Satan’s lies. Lies like:
“You’re all alone.”
“This isn’t Christmas.”
“No one cares.”
Just because Christmas doesn’t look the way it has in the past doesn’t mean it’s not Christmas. And just because your family is far away doesn’t mean you don’t have family nearby.
God does not bring anything to us that is not good for us. It’s a hard truth to hear when you’re hurting. But when we begin to see the distance as an opportunity instead of an obstacle, we discover an intimacy with God that will carry us through this season and the ones to come.