Psalm 42:1-2; 5-6 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” (Psalm 42:5, NIV)
It was a sad Christmas. A special long-time friend and companion had died suddenly and a light had gone out of my life with her passing. No amount of positive and faith based thinking lifted me from the doldrums. My energy had waned and holiday activities didn’t interest me in the least. Advent came and the house wasn’t decorated. The cookie baking list hung limply on the fridge. The Christmas wreath failed to adorn the front door. Instead of Christmas thoughts and plans my mind was saturated with memories of my friend and how unfair her passing seemed to me and the pain she endured before the release of death brought freedom. Life was the pits and I wondered how long it would be before this deep lethargy and sadness would lift.
And as usual, where was God when I needed him, when as the Psalmist wrote: “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God”. Have you ever found that? When things are really tough God just seems to disappear. Your prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling and that still quiet voice is so still as to be indiscernible. Grief and Christmas just don’t go very well together I thought, and then I thought again.
What was it like for God on that first Christmas morning when instead of having his Son beside him as he had been from the beginning of time, he watched him from the heavenly realms as he was born in a lowly manger? What was it like for God to see earthly parents raising his beloved One and Only? How did it feel not to be able to communicate with Jesus in the way they always had? And how had he come to grips with what he knew was to be the fate of his Son at the hands of man? Mmmm, maybe for God Christmas and grief do go together which is why on that sad Christmas, even though I didn’t feel like it, I chose by faith to continue to put my hope in God, my Saviour that in time, joy would once more permeate my soul. I chose to believe that in God’s hands all things are able to be worked for good. I embraced the truth of Scripture that God IS with me all the time and is comforting me even when I cannot feel or hear him. Yes, out of the depths of my misery, loneliness and confusion I would continue to choose to hope and praise Him, wondering as I did so if perhaps this might truly be one of the best gifts I could ever offer Him…the gift of faith and hope in Him, my Saviour and God amidst a sad Christmas.
Prayer: Father God I thank you that you are a God who understands everything about us and that you do care and are with us in the midst of our loneliness, pain and confusion, for indeed you are Immanuel: God with us. Bless those who mourn and grieve this Christmas season. Strengthen them to choose to embrace the truth of your Living Word, Jesus Christ, that they might have the faith and hope to present you with the gift of praise for who you are, amidst their sea of pain. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Lynne Phipps Atlin, B.C.