The hope of Christmas means something different to me after grieving for loved ones, one of whom was taken away far too soon.

This Is the Hope of Christmas

I almost talked myself out of writing a December column this year, and for good reason. I didn’t have the heart to write about the joy of Christmas after first receiving a message that my husband’s stepmom, who had been in hospice for a week, wasn’t expected to make it through the day. Minutes later, news came that my dear friend Carol was gone barely 2 months after the breast cancer she’d conquered came back as brain cancer.

Tears replaced words as I cried for Carol’s husband and one living son. I cried at the cruel timing of my broken foot which kept me from traveling to see her and say good-bye. And I cried for a world without Carol, a gentle and strong woman who used the experience or losing her younger son to minister to others.

A thought from my morning Bible study came to mind as I wheeled to the counter for a handful of tissues. While reading John’s account of Lazarus being raised from the dead, I’d been struck by how Jesus responded to Mary’s grief. He could have revealed His divinity by immediately bringing Lazarus back to life. Instead He first revealed His humanity by entering into Mary’s grief and crying with her. Now, Jesus knew Lazarus would soon be restored, so He wasn’t crying about his absence. Jesus was crying for the pain of separation borne by Mary, Martha and all those who loved Lazarus.

Jesus was the Word become flesh in that moment, fully human and dwelling among those He loved. By joining in Mary’s grief, Jesus sanctified her tears and showed a broken world how to grieve well and without sin. Then a few minutes later, He revealed the glory of His divinity as the only Son from the Father by bringing Lazarus back to life.

Though God once again graciously revealed His beauty through His word, my heart is still hurting. But it is also rejoicing as Christmas approaches. Not with glitter-and-tinsel giddiness. But with born-in-a-manger gratitude for the God of all glory who took on flesh and came to earth as a helpless babe. First and foremost to save us, but also to be human with us. To cry with us. To grieve with us.

To show us that the power of the resurrection resides in Him and is freely given to all who believe. This is light in the darkness to a weary and broken world. This is the hope of Christmas.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we have seen His glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

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