Monday, December 19, 2016

Grace for the Grieving

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and cry to her... 
Isaiah 40:1a

A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.
Jeremiah 31:15

We think of Christmas as a time of joy--and it is--but I think sometimes we confuse joy with happiness. Consequently, some of us get lost around this season because we don't "feel" the Christmas spirit, we don't feel happy. Sometimes this is simply because we are grieving, and we wonder how our grief fits with the joy of Christ's birth.

We see the happy little nuclear family, the baby safely delivered to his mother, the angelic celebration, the joyful visitors, and we don't know where our sense of loss is supposed to go. Maybe our nuclear family has been scattered or broken. Maybe our baby didn't have the wished for safe arrival. Maybe the friends we long to be with are separated from us by distance, disease, or death. Maybe our lives don't seem to warrant happiness at all.

But if we stop to really look at the Christmas story, maybe we can find space for our own grief. Perhaps we see pieces of it in the crushed dreams of Joseph, the fears of a young teenage mother, or, just a couple years down the road, the mass slaughter of infants as Herod seeks to eliminate a perceived threat. It is a poignant story, full of pathos coupled with an almost tremulous hope.

This year I realized a little bit more how much God is with us in our grief and loss. For the first time, I understood that when God sent Christ to earth, giving him life, he was essentially signing his son's own death warrant. I forget, sometimes, looking at the Christmas story, that Christ's birth was his first step towards the cross that saves us. I forget that as the angels sing against the back drop of blazing stars, that God was on his throne grieving the inevitable loss of his son.

I am reminded now that God is with us in our grief and loss. That is the point of him being Emmanuel, God with us. He purposefully became flesh, and therefore embraced his coming death, so that he could be with us, unseparated by the gulf of our sin. He purposefully became flesh so that one day there can be an end to these griefs and a return to wholeness.

We think of Christmas as a time of joy, a time when there seems to be no room in the inn for our grief, but Christ makes room for our sadness. He creates space for our broken heartedness. He reminds us that grief and joy are not mutually exclusive--and he comes to bring healing, to bring comfort, to bring himself to be with us.


  1. So well said Marian. This brings tears to my eyes even now to realize anew just how much God loves me. Thank you. Nadine

    Congratulations on a healthy safe baby girl. God has shown Himself faithful again. We are so thankful and wish we could see her and hold her❤️. So previous these little ones!!

  2. As I'm posting late, I'm trying to remember my first impressions of reading this, and I remember that I almost sent it to someone, but then the internet crapped out on me. Posting this useless comment before the internet does it again...