Of all the times of the year people are the happiest, Christmas tops the list.
For many of us, it’s a time to spend with loved ones and eat turkey, cranberry sauce, and sweet potato soufflé. Some of us get into our cars and spend a few days in a faraway town with parents, grandparents, and cousins. Others go on cruises, visit amusement parks, or hit the slopes.
But for some at Christmas, it’s the time to gather together and bury a loved one.
It seems this year has been saturated with death. I can think of at least three families that said goodbye to their mothers within the last month or so. One of my son’s teachers will bury her father-in-law this week. But the one that baffled me the most happened yesterday.
A friend’s six-month old daughter passed away yesterday morning.
This young girl left two siblings and her parents. I know their pain is unimaginably deep and horrifying. It’s chilling to even think of losing your child, much less one so young. But in this world, we’re not guaranteed that any of us will live tomorrow.
I don’t know why people have to die when they do. Sure, God has set a time for us all to pass from this life. I heard Rick Warren say after his son died that no one feels better knowing why something terrible happened.
When we lose someone dear to us, we feel the pain that comes with realizing we will never see them again this side of Heaven. We won’t get to hear their voice, share a meal, or give them a hug. All we are left with is memories. If they’re good, it might help in the long run. But while the pain is fresh, the feeling of being left behind may be almost unbearable.
Grief is natural when someone we love dies. Death is unfair, inconsiderate, and final. It takes our sense of security and smashes it to bits. And it doesn’t keep banker’s hours. It takes time to heal from its hurts, just as your body needs time to recover from major surgery. To bypass that process is ill-advised and unnatural.
If you’re a follower of Christ, there is some joy to be had in the midst of your sorrow. You can be assured that you will see a believing loved one again. You can take comfort in the fact that even though you too will die one day, your body will be resurrected just as Jesus was. If you belong to a church, you’ll feel the love of your brothers and sisters there more than ever as they lift you up in prayer, bring you meals, and cry along with you.
Thanks to Facebook, you can have friends from across the country sending sympathy messages and praying for you. When you gather to say goodye, you might reconnect with a family member you haven’t seen in years. Maybe being confronted with death will move you to think about how you’ve lived your own life.
If you’ve experienced loss this season, I pray you feel the assurance of God’s loving presence as you grieve. Remember, He too lost His own Son on the cross. He knows what it’s like to hurt. Scripture tells us Jesus wept when Lazurus died.
Jesus lived, died, and rose again so you wouldn’t have to taste the pain of death forever.
If you know someone who has lost someone this Christmas, make sure they know you’re thinking of them, love them, and are praying for them. Offer to help in any way you can. Give them a hug if you’re both comfortable with that.
Christmas is proof God loves us. He knew we are messed up people in a broken world. He could have judged us. Instead He sent Jesus to fix it all.
Make Jesus the reason for your Christmas season. He’ll walk with you in your sorrow, love you in your messiness, and work to make you better.