The sky was pitch black. It was eerily quiet. The sheep were still while the shepherds dozed against a tree.
Suddenly a dazzling, golden light rippled across the dark, inky sky. The shepherds jumped to their feet as the light came down and shimmered around them.
It was beautiful, but absolutely terrifying.
Next, a glittering angel appeared and began to speak:
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem. . . And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-11
Then all heaven broke loose.
Horns blasted. The melody of a thousand harps filled the air. The sky erupted with millions of beaming angels, praising God and singing:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth.”
It was a kind of like a Christmas flash mob, only a million times better.
Then just as quickly as this dazzling scene appeared, it disappeared. And the night seemed even darker and quieter than before.
But the shepherds could hardly contain the resounding joy. After all, the veil between heaven and earth had just lifted and they had encountered immortals. Who had ever seen such a sight?
So the shepherds rushed to town and just as the angel said, they found a baby in a manger. A teenaged peasant girl, named Mary, had just given birth. Her husband Joseph, was with her. Both were rejoicing and in awe, as if they’d had a brush with the immortal, too. A surreal-looking star, bigger and brighter than a planet, shone over the stable.
They all gathered around the baby in awe . . . wondering,“What child is this?”
On that holy night long ago, both heaven and earth rejoiced.
But was God rejoicing, too?
Yes His plan was advancing, but was that holy night . . . a painful night?
God had just sent His son away.
It’s the first degree of separation the Trinity had ever known.
I’m sure His heart was heavy. His beloved son was coming here to die.
On a much, much lesser scale, I can relate. At least about the heavy heart part.
In 2022, my 87-year-old daddy flipped his ATV off a bridge. Volunteers searched for hours with spotlights until they found his body, face-down in the dark water. The coroner said he died on impact. I’ve never written about it because it hurts just to type the words.
After a lifetime of hellos, I didn’t even get to say goodbye.
A long chapter of my life suddenly snapped shut.
Christmastime often highlights loss and feelings of grief. The season can feel heavy.
Perhaps it’s like that for you, too.
Maybe this Christmas you’re missing someone. Perhaps there’s an empty place at the table or an empty place in your life. Maybe your heart needs a lift.
I started this post with the story of Jesus’s birth because remembering it actually helps me as I face the holidays without my Dad.
The Christmas story tells us that:
He knows how a heavy heart feels.
He’s experienced loss. Sorrow. Stinging goodbyes.
Because of that holy night, long ago, God understands.
But God didn’t have to suffer. He could’ve stopped it. He chose to give up His son one holy night for me. And for you.
He loves you that much. He loves me that much. Hallelujah.
This is why you can celebrate Christmas even while your heart is grieving.
As I consider the wonderful gift of Jesus Christ our Savior, it lifts my heart and brings in joy, gratitude and hope.
Here’s why: because of Christ, the separation from my Dad is temporary. We will see each other again. Our relationship will be deeper and far sweeter than ever before. And we’ll never have to say goodbye, again.
Perhaps celebrating the gift of Christ this Christmas will lift your heart, too.
I’d like to help you.
I’ve paraphrased the following 3 passages and inserted personal pronouns. Whenever you feel the need, read these verses aloud several times as though they are meant for you—because they are. After each verse, thank God for His gift. Ask Him to lift your heart and fill it with joy and light.
“At one time I was far away from God. I was his enemy because of the evil things I did and thought. But now, by means of the physical death of his Son, God has made me his friend. In order to bring me into his presence, he has made me holy, pure, and faultless.” Col. 1:21-22
“For God so loved me that he gave his one and only Son, and if I believe in him, I will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn me, but to save me through him.” John 3:16-17
“For me a child was born, for me a son was given and the government is on his shoulders. And he is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Is. 9:6
Peace and blessing to you and your family. Have a Merry Christmas!
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