Peace on Earth... Even When It Hurts?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, December 24, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

It was eleven years ago that I performed my first back-to-back funerals just before Thanksgiving. I experienced two very different types of grief, and all of the holiday season was just different for me.

My grandmother died shortly after a close friend of mine. For the loss of my grandmother, there were tears and memories, certainly grieving the absence of her with us and what she uniquely brought to the family. Her death had been slow in coming, and everyone had the chance to celebrate the many years of her life and to say goodbye, and in many ways we were prepared for her to be at rest.

My friend however, was in his 40's. He was surprised with a cancer diagnosis, and within 6 months he was gone. It was too soon. A few of us who played in the band with him struggled in the weeks after his death. We each struggled with words said, words unsaid, things done and undone. In our grief, we were embarrassed and felt guilty for even the simplest of things we may have said that could have hurt his feelings. We were unsure of how to resolve all the things we should have said. And there was a season where we had almost a "mythic" view of him, as if he were some hero or innocent in a story and we were the ones who made his life more difficult than it needed to be. Perhaps it was because he died so graciously faithful. Perhaps it was just because he died.

A few years later when our first family dog died, I was digging the hole to bury our departed canine friend and suddenly a wave of familiar emotions flooded over me. Things said, unsaid, done, and undone - the "mythic and heroic pet for an unworthy family." It was then that I realized that this is a normal part of grieving. Whenever we grieve, we are drawn to the depths of loss and pain, and that includes all the things we may or may not have done well in our relationship with the departed loved one. I also realized in BOTH those seasons that it was essential to go into the depths of grief, with Truth firmly in hand.

My friend and our family dog both knew that we loved them. Neither one of them died wondering if we were their friends. They were not holding on to unresolved memories; we were. And we, if they had not died, would likely be treating them the same way we always had. The only thing that changed was that they were no longer here. Our hearts and minds were desperately taking inventory of all the things we shared with them, good and bad, that would no longer be shared with anyone else in the same way. Once the inventory was complete and we had faced our loss (and guilt) with Truth, then we could move toward the joy of remembrance. A joy that comes from Truth, through peace, and is the consolation of our souls.

Read Luke 2:21-40. Read through this moment in the events around Jesus' birth. Take time to imagine Simeon and Anna, as if you had met them and knew their stories.

Why is it that Simeon held so firmly to the promise that he would see God's 'consolation' of Israel before he died? What was the nation of Israel mourning at this time? Why did they need peace and how would this Jesus person make a difference?

Why did Anna not remarry after the death of her husband? It was only 7 years before he died, and she could have been as young as 21. Why would she devote her life to God and remain a widow for 77 years? Was she just stuck in her grief? Or was there something about her devotion to God - worshipping Him, fasting, and praying - that brought her through grief and to renewed purpose and hope?

Anna and Simeon both trusted God deeply, and He made them a part of validating the hope and peace that Jesus would bring. God satisfied their entire lives with His presence and the peace He was bringing through Jesus Christ.

If you are grieving this Christmas, unsure of why you feel so alone, or just bummed with all the hype of presents without the presence of joy and peace, then I would like to invite you to consider Simeon and Anna. I would like you to consider following their example. Go to God with your grief, with your emptiness, with your cynicism. Focus on who God is and the Truth of who Jesus Christ was and IS! Give God permission to lead you through your grief and to bring you to soul-satisfying joy and hope. He can, and He will.

Whether your journey through grief to joy and hope is 77 years or 77 seconds, I pray that the fullness of Jesus Christ's light and life would shine on you, renew you, and bring the brightness of His presence to your eyes this Christmas season. May you celebrate this day as His day, and may your life become a perpetual celebration of Him, every day.

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