Hope When The Holidays Hurt

christmas lights

A groan erupted from deep within me as another Christmas carol started on the radio. I mentally counted off how many more days until Christmas would be over. Then I tabulated how many Christmas events I had to endure. My father had recently passed away and Christmas memories with him pierced through my heart. Every ringing bell and mention of Christmas joy seemed to sharpen the pain.

That was six Christmases ago. I still miss him. Every day. And especially during the holidays. But I’ve found hope in the midst of the pain. I light Evergreen candles and remember going to church with him on the night of the Hanging of the Greens. I buy his favorite cheese and my husband retells his jokes. We tell our children stories about special moments with them when they were little. And we thank God for so many good memories.

And even without him here, we experience the joy of Christmas as we dwell on all this day means.

Then we ponder the wonder of Christmas. The day  Almighty God of heaven and earth clothed Himself with human flesh and became a helpless babe. The One Who knows the end from the beginning made a way to dwell among His creation. To draw us to Himself. To show us His love through His birth and death. The God Who walked among us, conquered death and will never leave us. The Resurrection and the Life. The Hope of all Mankind. He has come. Immanuel.

Hope rises.

Pain is temporary.

How many Christmases are there in eternity? We will have so many more with Dad than we will ever endure without him.

The holidays can be hard. Don’t try and stuff the pain. Get help. Talk to others. Talk to God, the Wonderful Counselor. Grief is a process. We don’t decide to just shrug it off and it suddenly goes away. It’s a journey we walk through. Give yourself permission to take all the time you need.

But I promise there is a destination. It won’t always be this hard. It will get better. In the meantime, remember and retell the good. Look forward to the future. And remember- that tiny babe born in a manger so many Christmases ago- the Almighty One- holds you tightly in the palm of His hand today. He will not let you go.