It was Thanksgiving Day, and I was standing on the hard cold earth of my daughter’s grave. An entire year had not yet passed since her unexpected death; we were entering our first Christmas season without her. I didn’t feel very thankful, and I wasn’t looking forward to returning home to set up festive decorations. The tears streamed down my face, and I repeated a now-familiar prayer, “Jesus, please be near.”
Time marched on, and I found myself amid the typical hustle and bustle that the holiday season brings. The usual holiday cheer felt abrasive, and my longing for Jesus intensified. There is so much hope and joy to be celebrated in the Christmas story, but knowing loss, heartache, grief, and suffering makes the typical fanfare seem to mock my pain instead of ushering me to the throne room of the King.
Psalm 56:8 says, “You yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not recorded in your book?” God knows our pain and the longing of our hearts. I long for Jesus amid the hurt of this world, and I long for the King that will come again, making all things new. Grief has not dulled the celebrations surrounding Christmas; it has illuminated the majesty of Jesus.
Grief has not dulled the celebrations surrounding Christmas; it has illuminated the majesty of Jesus.
This year I will be releasing an Advent, Joy of Every Longing Heart, through my newsletter. You can sign up for it here. Dear friend, if I could sit and have coffee with you, these are the words I would share. Maybe you know the sting of death, a poor health diagnosis, or feel abandoned. Perhaps loss is fresh, and grief is heavy. Possibly, you feel out of place in the world around you. Suffering can be lonely. While I can’t know or understand the circumstances you wake to each morning, Jesus knows and understands.
Isaiah 53:3-4 tells us, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; he was despised, and we didn’t value him.”
This Christmas, I encourage you to set traditions aside if need be and enter humbly to sit at the feet of Jesus. Sit with gratitude for what Christ has done and wait with expectation for all he has yet to do. Each day of this advent will provide a short devotion, questions to ponder, and Scripture to meditate on more fully. Let these exercises in expectation spur you to plunge even deeper into the fullness of God’s Word. There is joy to be found amid longing, and you will find it with Jesus.