It happens every year. Seas of lonely singles and hurting people find that the holidays only magnify their pain and feelings of isolation, like tearing the scab off an unhealed wound. While families and couples gather in plain view for festive togetherness and merry-making memories, the ache for many left out in the cold is vast and raw. If you are one of the hurting masses, what can possibly soothe the pain of the dreaded holidays?

Let me begin by letting you know that for the past few years, I could easily fit into the lonely, hurting group over the holidays. First of all, due primarily to divorce circumstances, I've had despairingly inadequate time with my two girls during the coveted holidays in recent years. Add to that, my only sister and her husband suddenly cut themselves off from the family nine years ago, along with their five children. That left a huge and lonely gap in family gatherings since, reducing our get-togethers to just my family and my parents (my husband's family all live either in other states or overseas). And then for the past six holiday seasons, my beloved mom struggled through various stages and treatments for cancer. Last year we spent Christmas and New Year's a thousand miles away at Mayo Clinic while she got more treatment. She finally succumbed to the battle this past summer, so this is my first holiday season without her.

I've had many people ask me, "I'll bet the holidays are going to be really hard for you this year, huh?" You know, even though I have lots of reasons why they could be depressing and downright devastating, this year I have a new attitude—a new hope. Things are going to be different. That's because over the last year I've discovered a secret long forgotten: God-established Holy Days.

You see, long ago and far away, God established special Holy Days called "Feasts." They were at least partly about taking out time to fast from the world and feast on God. They hinged on personal cleansing, intimate worship, and extreme celebration of His greatness. They also foretold about future events—some fulfilled already, some not yet—events that would shape the course of His-story. In a nutshell, these events were completely and totally about acknowledging and honoring our Amazing Creator while getting our eyes off the fallen creation.

But then came holidays. Many of the current holidays we observe are presented to be and even seem like they are about celebrating God, but really at the core, they are not. If they were really solely about God, they would not be disappointing in the least. These man-made holidays focus on people and things—get-togethers, gift exchanging, decorations, greeting cards, romance—and that is why they have the capacity to leave us wanting, empty, disappointed, and lonely. They are designed to be about us—our parties, our traditions, our families, our memories, even our own ideas about worship. But our best efforts at trying to successfully remake Holy Days into holidays, have fallen short. 

I'm not saying for a moment that it is wrong to embrace traditions, or to gather as families, or to celebrate life and loved ones. But if we truly want to find fulfillment, celebration, joy, and peace, we must return throughout the year to God's way of making the Holy Days about Him, and not about us. When we get our eyes off the flesh, and focus upon the Holy, there becomes no room for emptiness, loneliness, disappointment, or despair. On the contrary, those days become a Feast for the heart and soul!

In our times, God does not want us to observe His Feast days as just another religious ritual. In the quietness of our hearts, or perhaps behind closed doors either alone or with our families, we can once again learn about the true prophetic meanings and then observe His Holy Days, keeping our celebration purely and simply about Him. It is one great way to begin healing a lonely heart for every day of the year.

Upcoming Holy Days 2009-2010 

  • December 12-19, 2009: Hanukah or Festival of Lights
  • March 30-April 6: Passover/ Feast of Unleavened Bread
  • May 19-20 (sunset to sunset): Feast of Weeks or Pentecost
  • September 9-10 (sunset to sunset): Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah
  • September 18: Day of Atonement
  • September 23-30: Feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering
  • Every Friday sundown to Saturday sundown: Sabbath rest and celebration of our Father

For more information on God-established Holy Days, visit: http://biblicalholidays.com/Excerpts/What%20happened.htm. Be sure to check out the sections that reveal the Messiah in each Holy Day description.

Julie Ferwerda is the author of The Perfect Fit: piecing together true love, and has written for publications such as Marriage Partnership, Focus on the Family, and Discipleship Journal. Find out more:  www.JulieFerwerda.com.

Original publication date: December 8, 2009