It’s been almost 4 Christmases since that rope and his neck and that tree out in the woods. 4 Christmases since everything changed and the landscape of our lives was lost under a flood of grief.
It has been 3 Christmases since we packed up our life and our children and dreams and left in the bright sunlight of that bitterly cold morning in January.
This season has become one that is marked now by the number of years since – since grief entered in. I can still remember how it was marked by the anticipation of songs and carols and decorations, crazy snowfalls and the warmth of home…
It can all change so quickly.
This season? Underneath all that is beautiful, all that is anticipated, all that is wonderful and bright – it can be marked with an undeniable ache, a yearning for what once was, what we wish could be and the darkened days can match that hollowed out howl and the days leading up to the days of Christ’s birth can be a stark pain of salt rubbed into raw wounds.
I can forget, under all that is merry and bright that the One Who came wrapped in an infant’s skin and wrapped in torn cloths and placed in the brittle straw of a manger, that He came not indifferent, but as God, as One acquainted with grief.
Each night, the four little ones and us, we sit close and read of Christ’s history, of the story of His coming that stretched right back into the very beginning of Genesis. Each night we light the advent candle that shines brightly into the hushed dark.
This week has been the week of Hope. Of a wick lit and a flame burning brightly when everything else around it is dark. All week I have been reading Words woven throughout Scripture that breathe Hope back into my heart. Back into the days that have become marked with dread.
He entered in, stepped through the veil of the unseen to become fully seen and it’s the question that has been echoing in my heart as I grab hold of His Hope –
Will I cling to Him too? Will I cling to the One Who is a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief, rejected, despised…One not esteemed?
Will I identify my life with One Who broke through and identified with mine so that He could save and mend and heal the brokenness and clothe me with His righteousness?
This season, with the holly and the twinkling lights and the softly lit nativity scenes – they are only the opening notes that move my heart to remember why it was that Jesus came.
Grief marks my Christmas, but grief and sorrow marked my Savior and out of Him came new life and hope and He comes to redeem and make new.
So I can worship and praise and sing carols with tears on my face because He knows. And He came. And in the darkest night, Hope shines brightly…
Hope fills the afflicted soul with such inward joy and consolation, that it can laugh while tears are in the eye, sigh and sing all in a breath; it is called “the rejoicing of hope” (Hebrews 3:6). William Gurnall
God Who is acquainted with grief, Who is acquainted with the very depths of me – I come before You in quiet adoration. Underneath the unsteady days of memories and hearts that are still broken, You hold firm and hold us fast. You are peace in the darkest of storms and the Hope that shines brightly to pierce the blackest night.
I praise and thank You for Your compassion, for not coming to us as unfeeling or too lofty, but for bending low in the dirt of us and for weeping over the wreckage of sin in us and for dying for us so our souls could be redeemed. You are so good, so amazing and this season, with all its joys and grief is itself redeemed when my eyes are fixed on the beauty of You.