This may seem an odd choice for a devotional to include during the Christmas season, but I’ve been thinking a lot about those who are grieving the loss of someone they love this year. Grief doesn’t take a holiday during Christmas, so some of you might be contending with it while you are supposed to be celebrating, and I’ve been praying for you.
Zondervan publishing has just released a new Bible entitled, Hope in the Mourning, for those who might be walking through a season of grief. It includes several of my submissions and I’m including one of them below for you or others you know who might have experienced loss recently. My prayer for those of you who are grieving this Christmas is that God will come alongside you, strengthen you, and provide the comfort you need.
Read Matthew 5:1-12
Blessed are those who mourn… There it is – blessed. Some Bible versions say, “Happy are those who mourn.” I should be happy? I’m not. My Bible stares at me. It waits for me to adjust to its truth, but I can’t. Even though I know Jesus promises me blessing in the midst of my pain, I can’t even begin to embrace the words of this passage after having miscarried our third baby. My spirit is crushed.
The words somehow feel dismissive of my sorrow. They’re not. In fact, it’s no accident that our mourning comes right between Jesus’ blessing and his comfort. Jesus intentionally wraps our anguish with his promises so that we are surrounded with hope as we walk through the tremendous pain that grieving brings. So, why is embracing his blessing and comfort so difficult when we most need it?
Grief is often a solitary journey, one we try to take alone. If we believe no one else understands our pain, we may isolate ourselves when we most need support. As we navigate our way through the horrific obstacles grief erects, we might feel alone, but we are never actually left alone. Jesus always travels with those who are his.
“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry,” says the Psalmist in Psalm 34:15. There is never a time during our grieving process when the Lord’s eyes are not on us and his ears are not tuned to us. He sees our distress in the daytime, and he hears our cries in the night.
It’s such a paradox. In the midst of unspeakable agony, we can have comfort. In the turbulence of our suffering, Jesus wants us to have joy. How then do we adjust to that truth? What is the bridge between our mourning and God’s promised blessing and comfort?
Restoration is found in the mystery of the exchange. Jesus promised comfort for our sorrow. It is an emotional remedy to an emotional condition – perfectly suited for our pain. His comfort is exactly what we need and he has offered it generously, but we must relinquish our grief. We have to let go. We don’t deny our grief exists, but we bring it before him for his consolation. We offer our agony to him and exchange our pain for his peace, our grief for his comfort, his solace for our sorrow.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
Thank you for your blessing and comfort in my grief. When the emptiness of my loss threatens to consume my hope in you, Lord, remind me that you emptied yourself for me. You exchanged your position in heaven to come to earth and ensure that I would never again walk alone. Help me to entrust my agony to you. Amen.
(Copyright © 2013 by Zondervan and Credo Communications. Hope in the Mourning Bible. Published by Zondervan. All rights reserved.)