See the original post on TheReb here.
Christmas is a joyful time of memories and laughter, but for so many others, it’s a time of deep pain and grief. What should we do when there is an empty chair at the table? What about when the laughter is so much quieter and the beloved presence is gone? What then?
In August, just four months ago, my grandfather died tragically. My life was forever changed from that day on. These last few weeks specifically have been immensely painful as I await the sadness and grief my family will experience on Christmas day.
No one will blame me for deeply missing my grandfather’s corny humor, love of ice cream, nickname calling, and genuine care for his family. But how should I, and so many others in my same situation, face Christmas this year as a believer?
The answer, although easier said than done, is this: look to Christ as you grieve, hope, and remember.
Because Christmas is a time for families to experience the joy of the season together, this is so often the most difficult time of grief. While Christmas is famously known for its laughter and memories, it can produce so much pain because you cannot experience it with someone you love.
However, this feeling is not wrong! The Bible tells us that there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). After Lazarus’s death, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) at the death of his beloved friend, knowing that He was about to raise Him from the dead!
As this Christmas approaches, mourn your loss as you look to Christ for ultimate deliverance from the curse of death when He comes back again.
Although grief is inevitable, hope must follow.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul exhorts those who had experienced loss to “not grieve as those who have no hope.” Even though we must grieve, hope is what sets us apart from the world. Even in the darkest hour of our lives, we are to place our hope in the living God who holds the universe in His sovereign hands.
Your wonderful, loving father works all circumstances for the good of His precious children and for His own glory (Romans 8:28). Oh, how the Lord is ever faithful and his steadfast love is ever present!
Through my own grief, I have recited the following verses to myself to anchor my hope in my savior: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:5-6).
Sometimes it feels easier to forget your lost loved ones rather than potentially experiencing the pain again by remembering. However, it can do your heart much good to remember your loved ones instead of shoving memories away to be forgotten.
Eat some of their favorite foods, laugh about some of the most memorable moments, and call into remembrance what they meant to you.
Don’t allow yourself to forget. Too often many go unremembered and forgotten. Pass on the wisdom they shared with you, and share the lessons you have learned from them.
Look to Christ
My heart goes out to all who are preparing to spend Christmas without someone they loved. I pray that we would look to Christ as we grieve, eagerly awaiting the day when death and sorrow will be completely eradicated. I pray that we would look to Christ as we place our hope and trust in Him even as the billows roll. I pray that we would look to Christ as we remember our loved ones and pass on their memory and wisdom.
We can celebrate our savior as we remember that Jesus came to earth in flesh and bone to suffer as we do, yet to do it perfectly. Although we sin in the midst of our grief, Christ didn’t. Ever.
Because of His perfection and death on our behalf, he now draws the brokenhearted to Himself, mends them, and clothes them in His own righteousness.
So as the grief that Christmas evokes emerges, seek to look not to yourself, but to Christ who will one day come again to break the chains of death once and for all. He will rescue us from this dark world to live with Him forever in the splendor of His holiness.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!