Holidays with a Hurting Heart

                                                       Photo credit:

This holiday season, I’m just going to be honest – it’s been brutal. 

I long for the holidays of childhood where all was excitement and dazzling wonder. 

Untainted by grief, the holidays were much anticipated in earlier years.  But now, grief shadows the holidays and wrecks the innocence of wonder. 

My heart cries, “O come, O come, Emmanuel!” 

Emmanuel – God with us. 

When Death stalks our days? 

When Death snatches our loved ones with no apology?

 God with us – when freak accidents steal away a spiritual mentor, a Gospel warrior, and a dear friend? 

God with us – even in the midst of painful sorrow? 

My heart says “yes, God is here.”  But still my soul aches. 

In the wake of a tragic accident that stole a close missionary friend of mine from this earth, my soul aches for those of us left behind.  

Where to find the stamina to pick up the pieces and enter the fray again? 

What do you say to a woman who just lost her husband, her best friend, her dreams for the future?  

What do you say to a woman who had no idea in the morning that by noon her life would be completely turned upside down?
What do you say to your friend who’s sobbing on your shoulder – what do you say to make her feel better?
What do you say when there are no words to make sense of it all? 
What do you say when your heart is sobbing with hers at the harshness of death?
How do you go on with your day to day life when you can’t get the echo of your friend’s sobs out of your ears?
How do you pray best for her when your soul can’t even find words to express the groanings deep within?
How do you wrap her in your love and care when life has you physically miles apart?
How do you encourage her to have faith and trust in God if yours feels pretty depleted?
How do you explain to a nonbeliever why this tragically widowed woman can sing “God is so good” when she just said an unexpected goodbye to her husband of thirty some years?
By all human standards, it seems as though Emmanuel hasn’t come; Christmas joy is elusive; the happenings of this world have slipped out of God’s hands; life is all tears and no laughter. 
But yet, praise God!, Emmanuel did come!  God with us – here.  Stirring in our hearts a longing for something deeper, instilling peace beneath the pain, raising our tear-stained faces to gaze at the Morning Star, guiding us closer to the Jesus come to experience our grief, calling us to a greater trust through the unexplained disappointments, reminding us that God alone knows the number of our days. 
Only God can use a tragedy to bring peace, a death to bring glory, an accident to spread the Gospel.  Only God can whisper over us a soothing balm, bathing us in His love, even now when hearts are torn, empty arms are aching, and eyes are brimming with tears. 

Emmanuel – God with us.  Peace and joy to grieving souls.  God with us – the only reason we have a season worth celebrating.  God with us – the only hope of better days to come.  God with us – the only comfort that strengthens us for the days to come.  God with us – the only promise of tomorrow.  God with us – the only healing for grief torn souls.  God with us – the only power for our weakness.  God with us – the only love worth trusting.  God with us – the only shelter for all of life.

P.S. Here is a link over to the story of the untimely death of my missionary friend: