What This Christmas Means to Me: Hope, Grace, Loss

“The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Christmas looks a whole lot different for me this year.

It’s not that I never pondered it or participated in advent or saw my perspective change on gifts as I grew up, but this year, a different area of my heart has been opened that I never could have comprehended before. This idea of hope has depth and weight and heaviness.

Everything happened so quickly.

“The baby is under-sized.”

“I’m not seeing a heartbeat.”

“I’m so sorry, I’ll get the doctor.”

“We’ll never really know what happened.”

“It was nothing you could have done or not done.”

Everything all at once looks completely different. The hopes that you had for the future, the plans you had made in your mind for the next nine months– the rest of your life– there’s suddenly a void there. What now God? Because I never thought this would be my story.  Why would God so clearly call us to be parents, but fully plan on taking him from us prematurely? What kind of a cruel God does that?

I’ll tell you– one who loves us. Deeply. Immensely. Incomprehensibly.

I have never had a more clear understanding of the gift of Jesus.  The hope of a Savior.  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.  And through his Son, we have Hope for the future.

Hope that He is using this.  Using us. That His plans for me look so much better than my intentions.

When God called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, which I cannot even imagine, God had already promised him a future through Isaac. When it looked like despair, God had a greater plan.

When Elizabeth was barren and all she and her husband wanted was a son, when it looked like despair, God had a greater plan.

When it looked like Mary was going to be a single mother in a society where you don’t do that, when it looked like despair, God had a greater plan.

When our Zion went to be with our Lord and Savior, when it looked like despair, when it felt like despair, God had a greater plan.

I don’t know what will unfold over the course of my life in relation to the loss we have endured: the connections I will make, what our family will actually look like, or what God is preparing us for ahead, but I know I have already learned so much.

I have always struggled to empathize when it comes to loss and suffering, but I’ve suddenly felt for others like never before.

I have always loved children and babies, but now when I see them or a pregnant woman, my joy is met with hope and longing, even in my heartache.

Most of all, I have never relied so much on the Lord.  For strength, for hope, for joy.  And this closeness I have felt as I rely on Him has given me new eyes this Christmas season.  The advent resonates deeper, the songs richer, the family closer.

I don’t know what the holidays look like for you this year. If they’re joyful or painful, filled with laughter or lonely, generous or broke. But I would encourage you to look to the hope of the Father, the sustainer of all things. Just as God’s people yearned for a Savior, there was hope on the horizon.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  Luke 2:10-14

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