To Those Who are Grieving This Christmas

I took the hand-made houses that my Grandmother cross-stitched with yarn out of the box as we began to place them on the mantle. It was her “Christmas village” – a delightful little community including a church, store, and homes that she would display each year at Christmas which included little people and characters she had collected over the years.

When my Grams passed away last May at the age of 96, my mother and I took time one afternoon together going through her things. When Mom asked if I wanted the Christmas village, I immediately said yes. I knew somehow that putting up this village in my own home at Christmas would help me to remember my Grandma and all of her wonderful qualities. Sure enough, as I look at the village each day, I feel that it is a way my Grams is still with us this Christmas in spirit.

Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel

While Christmas is time of joy, festivities, and celebration for many people, it can also be a time of grieving and loneliness for others. For those who have lost loved ones over the last year, the Christmas season is often a time when their loss is felt more acutely.

While others are cuddling up by the fire with their loved ones or experiencing other bonding moments, many others are feeling a gnawing ache in their hearts as an empty seat at the table reminds them that their loved one is no longer with them.

And there is another type of “holiday pain” which most of us are familiar with to some degree – it is the pain of broken or strained relationships with family. You may not have a problem with sister A, but brother B does and when the two of them are in a room together, the tension is palpable.

In other words, the holidays are a time when we may feel the effects of the brokenness of our world in deeply personal ways – perhaps more deeply than at other times of the year.

Into our world of suffering, frustration, and pain, God has sent Emmanuel – God with us. The Christmas story reminds us that we have hope because God sent His own Son into this broken world to die for our sins so that we can have the promise of eternal life.

What We Can’t Afford to Miss

In the busyness of the season, here’s something we can’t afford to miss: God is with us. When we feel the pain of loss, He is with us. When we feel the pain of sickness, He is with us. When our hearts grieve from relational strife, He is with us. And because He is with us and promises to never leave us, we can have hope for anything we might face this Christmas season.

Here’s something else we can’t afford to miss this Christmas: the pains of those around us. Their hurt. Their loneliness.

Who do you personally know who has lost a loved one this year? Suffered relational difficulty or physical trials? What might you do to encourage them?

I have several friends who have lost family members this year. I know that while I cannot take their pain away, I can make a phone call to chat, send a letter to encourage, or invite them to dinner in our home. I know that I am personally so grateful for my own friends and family who were present and available to me this last year when our family went through difficult trials.

May the God who comforts the downcast bring the comfort of His Spirit to those whose hearts are grieving this Christmas. And may we remember that whatever we may face in this season or in the year ahead that He is Emmanuel – God with us.

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