The Grief...and hope of Christmas

9:55 AMHeather

Grief. Not exactly the word that comes to mind for the general population when you think about Christmas. But, for too many, that's all Christmas is. Grief. Your family is not like the Norman Rockwell paintings, and Christmas makes the pain fresh. Do you really have to spend time with these people? AND, shop for them? Or, for too many I know, this Christmas brings the grief of the one who is not sitting at the table.

I hesitated to write this blog post. Who wants to be Debbie Downer for Christmas? But, my heart is too heavy to ignore it. Right now, I am in a season of watching too many wrestle under the weight of heavy burdens. I can't shake the thoughts of so many I know who have lost a parent or a spouse this year...and the thought of facing a holiday without them is nearly unbearable. Or, those I hold dear who are in the fight for their lives. And,their loved ones daily face the fear and anxiety that maybe this is their last Christmas together. Or, the sweet friend who courageously wakes daily, prepared to say goodbye, waiting for the inevitable.

Grief. I have walked that bumpy road. I have been buried by the agony of it. I have fallen asleep, tears wetting my face, wishing I wouldn't wake up to see the nightmare is too real. I have railed at the God of the Universe for the injustice of it all--telling Him exactly what I thought of Him.

And, I'm a living testimony of survival. When I say there is hope--believe me, I do not say it flippantly. If you have known me or my story in much detail, you know the pit where I lived for a long season. But, I hope you also know that God could handle my questions, my insults, my anger. Somewhere in the depths of my pain, even though I could not see it for years, God was revealing the depths of His love and sufficiency. I would not wish it on anyone. But, I pray for it for every loved one or acquaintance I know this Christmas who are buried in grief. I pray that you, too, will one day look back and realize the sweet, precious experience that came with your grief--the love of an Abba Father who will hold you as you yell and punch at Him, who will gently and daily sustain you, who feels the depths of your pain as His dearly loved children.

And, I pray that on December 26th, you realize hope. You see that you have survived your first Christmas. You think of a newborn baby--a Son, born to die--a death sentence given by His own Father. And, I pray that a tiny sliver of hope shines through it.

Sometimes, my husband will take a child ahead of us if we are running behind--and I'll let him know that I'll be there soon, following behind. As I age, I've begun to see how temporary this journey on Earth is. And, although someone I love has gone on ahead, I'll be there soon. That is the hope of believers who grief.

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