“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
How do you handle the holidays without the ones you love? How do we handle grief during any joyous occasion?
Here are a few things I’m learning as I face another holiday with an empty chair or two because the special people I’ve loved are absent.
The subject of grief at Christmas is a tough one but it’s very real. To act like it doesn’t exist isn’t helpful and I long to be encouraging and uplifting to those around me. Therefore, I’m sharing today how I choose to live with joy amidst the sorrow of a loved one absent from the earth but present with the Lord.
This weekend I had the joy of singing with my home church choir and orchestra for Christmas. The music was beautifully written, the sound was wonderful and the true meaning of Christmas was sung and proclaim in every lyric and narration. The only thing missing was my sweet parents who would have been in the front row, smiling from ear to ear, taking pictures and cheering me on before, during and afterwards. Right before we started the choir music Sunday morning I had to excuse myself from the room to have a really good cry. Oh, how my heart cries and hurts at times like these. I’d be a complete liar if I said the holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries were easy. They are not. I’m learning to make conscience choices in how I handle those moments of grief. I’ve learned not to stay there too long or I’ll get stuck.
I’ve learned it’s not about choosing joy or sorrow. The challenge is to choose victory and live with my hope and joy in Jesus Christ. If I chose to maintain my joy in the Lord while in the middle of the pain and sorrow, my determination to go on brings honor to those who have passed on. I decided that my parents would be so sad if they knew they were the reason I stopped living. So I intentionally decided to live with a joy-filled and hopeful life. How about you? How are you doing this Christmas?
Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
I recommend a book I read from cover to cover, My Empty Chair by Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. De Vries. Here is a strong statement from this book to help cope with our grieving:
“Life is like a relay race. Your loved one has run his or her lap. He or she has handed the baton to you. You are still in the race. You still have a purpose, and failing to pursue that purpose lets the rest of the team down. Hebrews 12 reminds us that we are “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses: so we are encouraged to “fix our eyes on Jesus…so that we will not grow weary and lose heart” (vv.1-3)” “The baton is now in your hand. The race is still yours to run. God has a purpose for you-a purpose that goes far beyond what he was able to do through your relationship with your deceased loved one.”
I know through reading the Scripture that God does not cause death but allows it to happen. He is ultimately is in control and has a plan and purpose for all of us. (Jeremiah 29:11) He will work all things together for good for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
It occurred to me that my parents are sitting at the feet of King Jesus right now as I worship Him and sing about Him, here on earth. It is totally a wonder to behold that as I sing about Jesus here on earth, our loved ones are sitting with Him face to face in heaven. What a joy!
God will heal your pain. (Isaiah 61:1-3) He will heal you as you seek Him as your Savior. Hold onto Jesus. Look around you and ask God to open your eyes to see where He is at work and join Him there. Love.
Embrace the peace only Jesus Christ can give.
Grief changes us but we can choose for it to change us for the better and not become bitter. Take time today to say, “I can move on.”
Make this Christmas a strong statement of hope. Choose to celebrate life moving forward with peace, empathy for others who are hurting, and becoming wiser and stronger. You can bring honor to your memories and hope to the future for those walking through life with you as you strive to live life with Christ.
Helen Keller: “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
Thank you for Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Help me keep my eyes on Jesus and have the courage to walk this life in the joy, peace and hope of my salvation. May I begin each day with You and live knowing You have a plan and a purpose for my life. Give me the grace to move on this Christmas from the sorrow and grief to the hope and joy that comes from You. As I read Your Word may the Scriptures help me overcome my fears, anger and sorrow. Though I will experience tears and times of loneliness give me the confidence that You are always with me. Amen.
Merry Blessed Christmas!