Even at Christmas, losses still occur. Goodbyes become reality. Grief pays you a visit. Yes, even at Christmas.
It fastens itself to you and holds on tightly, accompanying you to every Christmas party, shopping trip, and candlelight service. This unwelcome guest becomes part of you, and part of your Christmas. Like it or not.
It threatens to drain your joy. It desires to consume your thoughts. It demands your full attention. It guilts you into believing happiness should never again be yours. Not even at Christmas.
Grief is a natural response to loss. We should never be ashamed of our grief, nor should we feel pressured to rush it along. Although it looks differently for each of us, one thing is certain: we all encounter it at some point.
So how are we to face Christmas – and any other day for that matter – with grief as our companion? How do we push through? How do we keep on living in spite of it?
Friends, I know of no better way to navigate through grief than to immerse myself into the word of God. In the days and weeks following my brother’s death, this passage continually stood out to me:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
He is the Father of compassion; the God of all comfort. How I needed to hear this. To remember this. To know this for myself. To be reminded of God’s goodness, and to understand He would comfort me through every problem I faced, even when it involved a goodbye I wasn’t ready to give. Yes, He was there. Yes, He cared.
And then I found purpose: I was not alone in my mourning. With the comfort God had shown me, I would someday console another whose heart was grieving.
Though it wasn’t easy, I crawled out of bed, finished shopping, wrapped gifts, and celebrated Christmas as best I could. I surrounded myself with family and close friends. I thought of Jesus. I pictured my brother sitting with Him, having the best Christmas ever.
Friends, if grief has invited itself to your Christmas this year, acknowledge it. Sit down with it. Open your bible to it. Find verses that speak comfort and hope to your heart. Press them firmly into your grief.
As you stand to your feet, may God’s peace and strength begin to steady you. May you be comforted. May you perceive the love and beauty encircling you. It is there, even in the midst of your grief. It is there, because He is there. And He cares.