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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Grief and Christmas


We think of Christmas as the best time of the year, a story of unblemished joy to the world, yet there was sorrow in His coming to earth. As the shepherds rejoiced with angels, King Herod introduces unimaginable grief into the story of Jesus' arrival.  Herod's jealousy and fear of losing his power led to an order for the deaths of innocent baby boys in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13-23).

Joy and pain in one story. Suffering and a Savior, intertwined.

I feel the sorrow and the joy of Christmas sharply in my soul this year. The coming of our hope, our Savior, and the sorrow of sin and loss.

We unexpectedly lost my husband's brother a month before Christmas to an incomprehensible accident. He was only 36, and a father of 4 young children. He was a believer, who had fought hard for joy, true love, and healing, before his life was cut too short. Thankfully I married young and got to be his little sister-in-love for 15 years before he went to Heaven. 

The joy and pain go hand in hand. The beauty of our world is so intricately connected to the pain, so much that sometimes there is no separating them. You feel them both. They both hurt, but in different ways. The deep pain of his children growing up without him. The aching joy of his reunion with our Heavenly Father.

I keep crying, but one eye is filled with tears of grief, and the other tears of joy.  I honestly can't tell the difference anymore.

We never truly appreciate the beauty of this world without the sharp pain of the suffering. My grandma used to say, "You can't have the sweet without the sour."

I hate that I have this new appreciation for the holiday, and detest the avenue in which it was learned, but it is a gift of perspective. The greatest gift God can give us, besides our salvation, is perspective.

I now know the pain of seeing a loved one pass away before my eyes, holding his hand while knowing he isn't really there.

I also now know joy of knowing that while I held his hand on earth, he is being embraced by the hands of his Savior.

Both pain and joy, sitting next to each other in my heart.  Extreme pain, extreme joy.

The mix of sorrow and joy at once is written all over the pages of Scripture, never more so in Jesus' story, from beginning to end. This is supposed to be the best time of the year, yet where there is joy there is always pain. Today I fall on my knees, with both crushing grief and overwhelming thankfulness in equal measure. I hear the Gospel Story, and see my Savior.

-Written December 2017, one month after my brother-in-love's passing

By Sovereign Grace Music

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

Humbly He lay, Creator come as creature,
Born on the floor of a hay-scattered stall.
True Son of God, yet bearing human feature,
He entered earth to reverse Adam's fall.
In towering grace, He laid aside His glory,
And in our place, was sacrificed for sin.

Fall on your knees! O hear the gospel story!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

Come then to Him Who lies within the manger,
With joyful shepherds, proclaim Him as Lord.
Let not the Promised Son remain a stranger;
In reverent worship, make Christ your Adored.
Eternal life is theirs who would receive Him;
With grace and peace, their lives He will adorn.

Fall on your knees! Receive the Gift of heaven!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born

O night, O holy night when Christ was born

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