The raw reality is this--life is hard at times. We can't change those hard times just because the calendar says we should be happy right now. But this one thing I know, God is with us - His name is Emmanuel. It’s the Name I whisper in the ear of each one I pray for. It’s the Name that tells us we’re not alone in our brokenness. It’s the Name that wraps us in comfort, the Name we can cling to when life’s sorrows are too raw to put up a tree or go through the motions of all the trappings of this season.
When life is whirling around us and it just doesn't seem to make sense, when it's broken and our hearts are exposed raw to the elements, all the "Happy Holiday" greetings only make the heart hurt worse. Through the eyes of the broken hearted, life for everyone else goes on as “normal,” and that can be a bitter cup to swallow.
The hurting and broken-hearted realize, often much sooner than most, that all the trappings that engulf Christmas aren’t the true meaning of Christmas and won’t heal wounded hearts. The true meaning is Jesus and His humble coming to be with us--Emmanuel, God is with us. He came to ransom, redeem and deliver us. He alone can turn darkness into light because He is the Light of the world (John 8:12). He alone turns condemnation into acceptance, and death into life. He alone brings hope, healing, love, peace, and even joy - not happiness - true joy. The joy of knowing the nearness of God is our good (Psalm 73:28). The joy of knowing He understands brokenness, separation, and grief. Joy isn’t, "Yippee! I feel great!" Joy comes as a fruit of the Spirt. Joy is rooted in grace. Joy is being aware of His grace in our lives (God is with us).
This. . .this. . .is the message beating in my heart this season. If you've never experienced it, a December kind of grief is a magnified grief. Our grieving friends and family need our prayers. More than our words of advice, they need "Some One" to touch the wounds of their heart. Pray, hold their hand, give warm hugs that say, "I love you. I care. I'm sorry you're hurting. I'm here for you." It's important to speak the loved ones name, to talk about him/her; share memories, let them know you haven't forgotten their loved one.
To all my precious hurting friends and loved ones, don’t worry with holding to the traditions of the past. Don’t rely on drugs or alcohol to heal your wounded heart, or to “get through the holidays.” There’s only One that can bring healing, His Name is Emmanuel, God is with us. He can do more than just “get you through the holidays.” This year, just be held.
Struggling with praying? Maybe this will capture the prayer of your heart during this December kind of grief.
"God, I’m not asking for miracles throughout this season. I’m asking to recognize Your movements in my life. I’m asking to catch Your whispers. I’m asking to sense Your presence in what I think are my darkest moments, when I think I can’t go on. God, I’m asking for moments when I can see Your grace as clearly as footprints in a fresh-fallen snow or wet sand along a beach. God, I’m asking that You be with my family and friends and somehow see us through."
Smith, Harold Ivan (2011-01-04). A Decembered Grief: Living with Loss While Others are Celebrating (Kindle Locations 124-127). Beacon Hill Press. Kindle Edition.