Christmas Sadness

Her loved one died a few years ago, and she feels like she’s gotten past the initial waves of grief. But at Christmas, she finds it hard to hold back tears.

His situation isn’t comfortable, but he seems to have accepted that. He understands he can’t force change, and he’s decided to wait for the Lord. But during the holiday season, he struggles a bit more than usual to be okay with the way things are.

They’ve prayed for children, and they long to be parents, but they remain a family of two. They understand the Lord is good. They don’t question that truth. But when the weather starts to change and the lights and decorations begin to go up around the town, they feel the ache grow a little stronger.

Christmas is a source of great joy. From the generosity of friends and family to the warmth of love all around, we have much to rejoice in during the holiday season. We’re reminded of Jesus’s birth, of God’s gift of love for a lost world, and we revel in the hope we have through him. Despite the darkness and despair of the rest of the year, Christmas comes as a deep breath, a welcome rest, a warm reminder that light always endures.

Why, then, can this season also make us sad?

In part, I think it’s because of the perspective this season brings. We see in Christmas a bit of the way things ought to be. Peace on earth and good will among men (Luke 2:14) is glimpsed at Christmas, even in a world that remains far from the King. And when we see more clearly how things ought to be, we see more clearly and feel more deeply the way things are now broken. We feel loss a bit more acutely, longing for the fellowship we can no longer access. We struggle with deferred hopes, the sting of present sorrows sinking a bit deeper into our souls. We know the world is broken, and we grieve.

But the sadness of this season is really more bittersweet, for sorrow doesn’t get the final word. We’re reminded of our loss and grief at Christmas, but we’re reminded too of the way God is making all things new. Because of Jesus, everything has changed. Sorrow turns to joy, suffering turns to growth, loss is turned to gain, and confusion is swallowed up in a greater certainty. Pain and hardship are real, but they exist as parts of a larger story, one which makes sense of them and redeems them. Christmas affirms the darkness of the night and promises a bright and fast-approaching dawn.

It isn’t wrong to mourn when we feel sad this season. The absences we feel are real and meaningful. This broken world is a painful world. But we can also rejoice with a joy that runs far deeper than any despair, a love that runs far deeper than any heartbreak, and a hope that runs far deeper than any sorrow. Christmas reminds us that the sad things are temporary things. We ache now because things are not the way they should be, but we are approaching a day when all will be well. So grieve and rejoice. Feel deeply the loss as well as the love. And look to the one whose birth brought hope for all hurting hearts.


Photo by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash

Loss and Grace

Some things are lost never to be recovered.
Some absences are gifts shrouded in grief.
Apart from pain, some truths stay undiscovered.
Some losses point the way to true relief.
But future glory does not make less real
The sufferings we meet from day to day.
Christ does not minimize the pain we feel;
Christ knows it best and shows there is a way
For loss to pave the road to greater gain,
For suffering to serve a holy end.
We mourn in hope, for nothing is in vain
In service to the ever-faithful friend.
Count it all joy no matter what you face.
Feel deep the loss, then rest in perfect grace.


Photo by Ryan Parker on Unsplash

Sadness is a growing thing

Sadness is a growing thing.
It is watered by frustrated plans,
fed by unfulfilled affections,
lengthened by loss.
Sadness is a subtle thing.
Unchecked, it soon can choke
life and love and laughter
as grief sours and
breeds bitterness.
Sadness is a frail thing.
It breaks open and spills out
unexpectedly
at the slightest touch.
Sadness is a fleeting thing,
a fading thing.
It is disarmed by a deeper truth,
held in perspective by purpose,
and will be redeemed
at the coming of the one
whose love was never lost.
He will wipe away every tear.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

By Faith

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I feel the pain but cannot find the benefit.
The path I would have chosen seemed a better fit.
Yet tests portend the sacrifice. I see my wraith
Point to my cross and call me to walk forth by faith.
Faith does not promise answers, bids me follow still;
Points past my understanding to the Father’s will;
Grounds hope not in the knowing but in being known;
Endures uncertainty certain of heaven’s throne.
Faith fixes focus not on the ephemeral
But finds eternal joy within the temporal.
It lays aside success and loss for higher gain
And trusts the one who gives and takes to justly reign.
Obedience bids me to die to self in this,
To trust the process in this brief parenthesis.
The work you do is good, as it shall always be.
Steadfast unto perfection is the course for me.


Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

All Along

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The sacrificial lamb was laid upon
The altar by the hands of wicked men,
And all was dark the days before the dawn
In the apparent victory of sin.
The lesser lion, seeking to devour,
Set his assault against the sacred son,
And Satan, in the darkness of the hour,
Was certain that the victory was won.
And so it was, but not for his array.
The cross of Christ displayed for all to see
That Satan’s claim to power had been wrong.
The finished hunter had become the prey.
The word made flesh fulfilled the prophecy.
The lamb had been a lion all along.


Photo by lydia harper on Unsplash

Job

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See him, possessing all good things,
Continuing his offerings.
Take careful note of how he sings.
His is a heart that knows its place.
He recognizes all is grace
And loves his unseen Father’s face.

See him now, hearing all are lost.
Into a storm his soul is tossed.
The friends who comfort soon accost.
Now pay attention to the cast,
For though prosperity has passed,
His resignation still holds fast.

See him, bereft of all good things,
Still praising through his sufferings.
Take careful note of how he sings.
His is a heart that knows its place.
He recognizes all is grace
And loves his unseen Father’s face.

Grief

Broken with no hope of being mended;
Focused on a chapter that has ended;
Feeling as if time has been suspended;
Captivated by the sudden stillness-
Life appears infected with an illness.

Pain, oh how much longer will you tarry?
Fear: oppressive fog around the ferry.
How much farther, Father, must I carry
Weakness, like a cancer in my being
Which corrupts the sights that I am seeing?

Deeply does the curse cause me to suffer.
With each passing day, the road feels rougher.
God, be my deliverance, my buffer.
I can not in my own strength endure this.
Must I suffer so much in your service?

Yet your promise holds, for you are working
All things for the good – even the hurting.
Keep me then, in test and trial, from cursing
You in your unfathomable wisdom.
Keep me focused on your holy kingdom.