Some of the deepest hurts in mourning are not that you mourn what is no longer here but that you mourn that there are no more tomorrows —no more chances to laugh together, to snuggle together, to playfully banter back and forth. Death severs the ability for new memories to be made and also dampens our experience of long-beloved memories. Death is a strong enemy and wields the sharp knife of sorrow with expert skill.
The past two Christmas seasons (the entirety of November through March, actually) have been very tough for me to walk through with the losses of my mother and grandmother compounded together. Beginning with Thanksgiving festivities and ending with what their birthdays would have been, that five month stretch has seemed laden with thoughts and memories that once made me happy but now easily draw the bitterest of tears.
However, this year on the third holiday season since their passing (which seems ages ago and yet just yesterday all at once), I have found Christmas carols care-freely springing to my lips along with the absence of the utter dread that has haunted me the two previous seasons. This difference has surprised me and caused me to reflect on the strangeness of time and even more on the strange grace of its Lord.
I will not pretend to be altogether over the grief. I will miss them until the moment I become whole in the presence of the Lord of my heart and the Savior of my soul. But I find strangely that in missing them so long I am able to appreciate the time I had with them more and that their losses have, in some strange way, strengthened and not hindered my walk with the Lord.
In experiencing deaths of those so dearly held in my heart, I find Christ’s conquering of this terrible enemy all the more glorious and His all surpassing strength and glory all the more astonishing. And I find the necessity of sharing the Gospel all the more urgent.
But most of all I think it strange that the Lord God should choose to save even me who grasps so little of the greatness of the Gospel and God’s gift to me in Christ Jesus and in eternal life with Him forever.
Christmas reminds me secondly of my undeserved estate but first and foremost of His worthy estate, freely given up in humility (Philippians 2) and firmly grasped again in omnipotence (John 10:18) all to bring a thankless, adulterous, idolatrous people from all times and cultures and nations to Himself.
Such strangeness and beauty mercifully intertwined could only be crafted in the mind of a strangely beautiful and merciful God!
As we celebrate His coming, long ago by human count
Let us remember that He will return to right the wrongs of history,
demand the glory due His Name
Of that we should have no doubt
And therefore His grace and mercies ever proclaim!
By His Grace, no earthly grief or sorrow or trial or pain will keep us from knowing Him more even as we are fully known!
Grief is hard but even grief bows to the Lord, who alone is Good. Merry Christmas and be encouraged to resemble our Lord in His humility and trust in the power of His unmatched strength, once veiled in the tender, frail flesh of a human baby!