Joyful Seasons and Hard Losses
Sometimes I wake up and struggle a little with this reality. It is a surreal thing, this life. Suddenly it’s 3 AM, and a dream jars me awake, and my brain has to catch up to what state I live in, this beautiful woman next to me and how I got here.
You could hear a pin drop in this house, on this frigid morning in New England. They say it’s too cold to snow, but maybe we will see a few flakes falling down later today. I like the snow most of the time, because it reminds me of Christmas. If there was ever a time our world needs to talk about the birth of Jesus, I’d say it’s 2016. Some of you say I’m a bit religious. I’m not, actually. You might say I’m just all about the hero of the story.
What makes this morning feel so “surreal” is within moments of my son returning home from his first semester away at college, I found out a friend of mine who twenty-three years ago attended that same college with me, lost her baby girl in the last half of her pregnancy. It’s hard for me…maybe it’s hard for all of us to understand how things like this happen. As one set of parents experience joy, others suffer in a deep loss. I can’t begin to tell you I understand how she and her husband must be feeling, but she wrote something of deep, poetic beauty. It taught me. It broke me a little.
By happenstance, I read James 1:2-4 to the kids this morning. You should look it up if you don’t have it memorized. I am so very grateful our hero, Jesus, provided us with scriptures like this as we endure heartache and pain. The writer, James, was the brother of Jesus Christ himself, but didn’t believe Jesus was the Son of God until after his resurrection. It’s just my opinion, but I think more than anyone James would be the writer most influenced by Jesus, and he launches his book with the words of comfort to those who suffer. It feels like Jesus’ words, like the words we see in the Beatitudes at the beginning of Matthew chapter five. If you spend any time in the bible, you understand this. There are pages and pages of encouragement and love for those who are suffering.
Christmas can be a very tough time of year for so many of my friends. And let’s be honest. It’s weird. This humble story of our Savior coming to us and being born as a baby in a manger has somehow been transformed into this commercialized thing. More than ever, in times such as these, we need Jesus and the hope in our eternity with him. The idea of parents reuniting in eternity with the children they so tragically lost is the kind of hope we can hold on to. God loves us so much he offers forever in paradise with Him, Jesus, all the babies we lost too early, and everyone who claims Jesus as King. I don’t know how anyone could ever have any hope in this life without Jesus. I hope all of you know him.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the losses you’ve experienced lately, and the ones that still haunt you in this life. There is hope for all of us, in the overwhelming and powerful love of God. This doesn’t mean we don’t suffer. But it means we always have hope, the same hope that came to this earth as a baby over two thousand years ago. Christmas is all about hope, yes, a humble hope, but a powerful hope indeed. Its about the hope for all mankind to find peace and love in the arms of Jesus. In our sorrows and suffering he’s just who we need. He’s the reason the angels said…
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
And so with the Christmas of 2016 we celebrate the birth of Jesus who came to bring hope to me and to you.