“Merry Christmas” read the sign in the store window. But I’m keenly aware of friends who are not feeling merry or bright this year due to the recent deaths of loved ones.
We all understand how loss feels. Permanent. Deep. Everything gets shaken up. That vital person is not present. It hurts and will most likely hurt for a long time.
I’ve felt the sting of death in the passing of both parents, a brother and extended family members. Just last month two friends from our Florida church family passed to heaven within two weeks of one another. That was rough!
Meanwhile, others that I love near and far are also experiencing deaths final sting and my heart is heavy for them. What to do?
Romans 12 tells us to “Let the inner movement of your heart always be to love one another and never play the role of an actor wearing a mask. Despise evil and embrace everything that is good and virtuous. 10 Be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another. 15 Celebrate with those who celebrate, and weep with those who grieve.”
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2 NKJV).
You may wonder … How can I practically act out this scripture?
Depending on your relationship with them, you can call them, send a thoughtful card, make them a meal (folks who are sad often don’t want to cook or even eat) or offer to watch their children a few hours. I prefer performing physical acts of kindness as a way of expressing the love of Christ so I place myself in their shoes and think about what I’d want in that situation. You all know I’m not a professional therapist but common sense and the Spirit of the Lord will impress you with ideas to comfort or console another.
Choose Joy? But I’m grieving over here!
I included this graphic because I believe that joy is a choice. Maybe it is too soon for you but the joy I’m referring to is not happiness, nor is it an emotion. It’s choosing to center our thoughts on whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8).
In my experience when I focus on God who is always good and worthy of my praise it is then that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, comes in and floods my emotions to guard my heart and mind through Christ Jesus. We can choose to look for joy in unlikely places. God always shows up with “God winks” — those personal ways He reaches into our individual worlds to let us know He is present during those dark times.
This 2016 article by Nancy Guthrie has helped some of my friends recently so I’m posting it if you have not read it What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas. “Tears do not reflect a lack of faith. Tears are a gift from God that help to wash away the deep pain of loss.” –Nancy Guthrie
Pray for grieving folks
Finally, let us remember that as spiritual warriors, we wage war in the spirit, not with physical weapons. We are God’s battle-axes! Our adversary wants us to be so sad that we don’t pray. I’m not suggesting the grieving souls stop their mourning to intercede. I am suggesting that as their spiritual family, we defeat evil with good by ramping up our prayers for our grieving brothers and sisters by surrounding them with our love. Prayer expresses our love.
“You are My battle-ax and weapons of war:
For with you I will break the nation in pieces;
With you I will destroy kingdoms;
21 With you I will break in pieces the horse and its rider;
With you I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider; (Jeremiah 51:20 NKJV)
May the God of peace be with you Chris and Jenny, Michelle and Linda, Cliff, Nicole, Janet, Beth, Barbara, Julie, Tori and Kyle … to carry you through this month with grace, comfort and even I dare say, joy in the midst of brokenness. God collects your tears and He is near to the broken-hearted. May you feel His nearness this holiday season.
Christian author and inspirational speaker of truth that makes the darkness tremble. Author of two non-fiction books.