Last Christmas, I waited in my home, feeling completely helpless, as my sweet grandmother Rosemary lay in a hospital bed, suffering the effects of a serious stroke just a few days after her 90th birthday.
She passed away the day after Christmas, after having been faithfully sung to and prayed over for two weeks by her ten children. We knew it was time for her to leave her earthly home and be with the Lord, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t hard, especially during the Christmas season when we should be filled with joy.
Just a few days ago, my last remaining grandparent, my dad’s mom, was diagnosed with a cancer that will take her life in short order. I feel like life has come full circle, and Christmastime is again becoming an occasion of sadness and grief.
Perhaps Christmas brings up similar feelings for you. A relative who is difficult to spend time with at the holidays. A sick child. A loved one who has gone on to their final home, leaving an empty seat at the dinner table.
Maybe you are in a bit of a “fog” this season too, like the picture above. Your heart is broken and you can’t bring yourself to enjoy Christmas like you wish you could.
Is it simply feeling sorry for ourselves, then, if we aren’t constantly smiling, attending concerts and singing carols and cheerfully baking cookies?
I believe there is a balance we can strive for, acknowledging that we live in a broken world, one where heartache, sadness and yes, even depression, can find us even at this beautiful time of year.
And at the same time, because of these sorrows, perhaps we see even more deeply the reason Christ came in the first place….thousands of years ago….unceremoniously born into a dirty stable…..unnoticed by the greater world.
So you see, Christmas is for the brokenhearted. Jesus, the Emmanuel, God with us, came for the lonely and the grieving. He made Himself man, not to help us be “good people” who are always happy, but to redeem a lost and broken people, turning their sorrows into joy.
“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden,
and they shall languish no more.
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. Jeremiah 31: 10-13
Our circumstances may change and people may fail us, but He does not change and He is ever faithful. This is the faith my grandmother possessed as she waited to join the angels and the saints in praising God…and the faith that was given to me by the grace of God.
The wonder of a Counselor, the almighty God, the eternal Father and the Prince of peace is with us. Our hearts do not have to stay broken forever. Praying that you and I can rejoice this season, knowing that we truly do have reason to take joy in a Savior born to each of us.