Focal Passage: Psalm 116:1-9, 15-17
This time of year, we begin to see rooftops, windows and trees light up, reminding us of the coming Christmas holiday. We wonder at the creativity (and electricity bills) of our neighbors, and we applaud nativity displays. Yet, these bright and whimsical themes can sometimes be a complete contrast from what’s actually going on in our hearts.
For some, the Christmas season brings about memories of loved ones who aren’t around to witness the lights of the season. This year especially, many will gather around tables that bear the empty seat of loved ones who were casualties of a pandemic. Sometimes, everything on the outside beckons us to joy, while everything on the inside reminds us of the joy we once had.
The psalmist could surely relate. In the third verse they likened their grieving to the pains of hell – so close to death it seems. If you’ve ever deeply experienced grief, you know the feeling of a metaphorical, yet perpetual, darkness with no end in sight. Grief is a common, expected part of the human experience. Even Jesus experienced grief and the pain of sadness and loss (Isaiah 53:3).
When we feel the weight of darkness, we can call to God. Sometimes admitting our vulnerability is difficult, but God already knows our thoughts and our feelings. He waits with open ears and stands ready to give us what we need to withstand sorrow. We have a God who is compassionate toward us. He is not distant or uncaring or unloving. He longs to care for us in every situation, and He is present in our times of grief. We can rest in His love toward us and trust in His perfect care when life finds us at our lowest.
If we are not careful, grief can cause us to despair. But when we give our grief to God, He will sustain us. This doesn’t mean that we don’t grieve. We were never promised a life free from pain. But we do have the promise of a God who loves us and promises to be with us, even in grief. We can grieve faithfully – with hope – knowing that we are not alone.