(This is a repost of an Advent article that first appeared here in December 2018)
My mother passed away on December 15, 2003. Although I was overwhelmed with grief and not in the mood to celebrate Christmas, I was determined that my young children would have as normal a holiday as possible. So, despite my feelings of emptiness, we continued with our family traditions. I put on a smile as often as I could muster it and loved on my kids so much during that time. I watched my dad sit motionless with a blank stare on his face as the festivities took place all around him. My heart broke for him as he seemed lost without my mother by his side. In the nearly 20 years since then, although my heart still hurts when I think of my mother’s passing every December, our joy has returned and we remember her with fondness – sometimes even giggling about her quirky nature (sorry mom).
Some dear friends of ours lost their vivacious and sweet adult daughter this fall in a tragic accident. I can’t imagine how difficult life is without her as they continue to wade through the deep river of sorrow that losing a child must bring about. Just trying to keep from being carried under by the crushing current of anguish. I know this family though, and they have a strong faith and close family bond that will strengthen them this Christmas. They will love on a husband who is now a widower, and two young children who will grow up without their mother. And they will carry on the traditions their precious daughter loved. And maybe even create new traditions in celebration of her life.
Have you lost someone you love this year? A spouse, parent, child, dear friend? Or will the holidays look different because of divorce or illness? Do you think that you’ll just skip this Christmas because it’s just too hard? I encourage you to take your pain and sadness and lay it at God’s feet. Ask Him to help you be present during the holidays, if not for yourself, then for others who count on you.
Because in time, out of our sadness, God will bring joy.
Joy in the hope for the future.
Joy in the peace that only He can give.
Joy in the knowledge that we will someday see our glorious Savior, along with all those we have lost who put their trust in Jesus.
And that is what the Joy of Christmas is all about.
(If you don’t normally listen to the songs I include in my posts, and especially if you have lost someone this year, I invite you to listen to “Son of God” below. I dedicate this song to precious Julie and her family.)
“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Luke 2:10-11 NIV