For all of those who are hurting this holiday season and feel a little less like decking the halls and more like you’re in your own silent night, my heart goes out to you. This week I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories of many who have lost their loved ones…moms, dads, grandparents… around Christmas. As the world seems to spin merrily on high, some are hunkered down, wrestling with old memories of painful deaths, or new grief of fresh losses. Story after story I’ve heard this week from coworkers, friends, and patients, how Christmas rushes in with not only a whirlwind of preparation but a whirlwind of sadness fraught with the attempts to put the past behind.
As I sat listening to these stories one after another I was struck with 4 things that I reflected to God:
1.) Thank you, Lord, for my beautiful, simple life.
2.) I know life won’t always be this way– next year or 20 years from now it could be me grappling with the loss of a loved one at Christmas–so be grateful for the gift of peace, family, time together, laughter, and the rich goodness that surrounds you at this moment in time.
3.) Lord, I repent for complaining about so many things of such less importance when I have been blessed beyond measure.
4.) Oh Lord God, Christ incarnate, be near to those who are hurting.
It is at times like these that our hearts yearn for the gift of the incarnation. Jesus, Emmanuel…come. God be with us, now, in these moments, when Christmas feels heavy and pain has stolen all holiday cheer. John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The gift of the incarnation is when the Son of God left Heaven to hurt, to feel, to love, to dwell, to hold, to embrace, to save and to make New a hurting, broken world…this was the joy brought forth on the very first Christmas over 2000 years ago- the joy that collided with the sorrow.
I wonder as Mary held her baby boy, as she grappled with becoming a mother in the most unnatural of means, as she was exiled from home and learning her new husband… did she have sorrow? Did she know that this Divine moment would bring unmatched sorrow 33 years later when her baby would die for a world that hated Him? Did she know that He was the joy and the answer to all those who confront sorrow and loss? The Word, the Cosmos…God, became flesh. Heaven had entered heartache. God indwelled creation. Flesh on flesh, heart to heart– oh Holy night.
Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
I am thankful for a God who cares and who actually cared so much He couldn’t leave a hurting world, alone. He needed to physically enter in… to hold, to rescue, to wipe tears, to heal, to love on the sick, to conquer death and provide a way to resurrection.
To all those who mourn this Christmas or mourn the loss from a Christmas long ago, may the Incarnate Christ hold your heart and whisper peace over your sorrow.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”