As I’m sure you’re already aware, the next month will be a sprint of Christmas hullabaloo. The central message of our celebration is that of good news of great joy for all nations: Christ has come. The centrality of joy should be unmistakable.
But amidst all the joyful anthems, alongside all the favorite traditions, hiding in the corner of many otherwise joyful hearts is a pang of sorrow. The dull grief of loss is sharpened anew. The memory of past celebrations brings a fresh wave of mourning. The realization comes anew that their laugh will no more be heard, their embrace no more felt, their presence will no longer warm the room.
This is where the potency of the Gospel shines brightest. For the Savior born in Bethlehem, as Isaiah foretold, would bear our griefs, carry our sorrows, and bring about the death of death. While the story is still in the telling, the ending is certain.
All your grief will soon melt into tears of glad rejoicing. All your sighs will give way to songs of triumph. All the nights of weeping shall break forth into an endless dawn of joy. The bitter bud of trials, will become the sweet fruit of sanctified glory. The darkest threads of the tapestry will give, from the distance of eternity, a deeper contrast to the whole.
The joy in all our sorrows is that God became a man and dwelt among us. He drank up the cup of our suffering to the very last dregs, so that you might drink only the finest of vintage from the cellar of His grace. Grace to comfort you in your most grievous trial. Grace to confirm you in your highest joys. Grace for the valley and the mountain. Indeed, our darkest sufferings are where this Good News of great joy shines the brightest.
Our sorrows too often become excuses to foster self-pity, indulge carnal lusts, ignore faithful reading of the Word, or flee the fellowship of the body of Christ. Yet our Father offers to carry our every last burden, and by the cross of our Lord Jesus we see that even the worst suffering, by the power of God, breaks forth in glorious resurrection. May we go to God for forgiveness for not bringing our sorrows, pain, and grief to Him; further, we must repent of the ways in which we fail to bear each others burdens, as well as making our burdens known one to another in order that we might bring each other to Christ, our great High Priest, who suffered in our stead. May God give us grace to turn from the ways which we’ve tried to soothe our pain & grief apart from Christ, and may we walk in the true joy which Christ’s advent is intended to bring us, that there is eternal joy beyond all of earth’s sorrows.