I know it’s a song and not Scripture itself, but these words are speaking so deeply to me in this season. These lyrics to one of my favorite Christmas songs–O Holy Night–that are just striking me in a way that they never have before. Speaking directly into the heaviness that this season has been and proclaiming God’s banner of beauty over it. Because with all my heart, I believe that God is writing redemption over every broken thing.
My heart has felt more burdened this year for all of those who are walking through loss–whether recently or not. Because in a sad but beautiful way, walking through grief is something that connects us. I share unique friendships with others who have lost a parent, and we understand something about one another that others who haven’t experienced that kind of sorrow just don’t quite get. And I don’t want anyone to enter the dead parent’s club before they have to, but I also love everything about the ways I feel connected to these people that I get to walk through life with.
This season is hard. It is hard for so many reasons. But for others that have experienced loss, it can be especially hard. Christmas brings up memories of the past and highlights all the more the one who is missing. It brings with it dreams that are unrealized as we mourn those that should be here with us. And my heart is truly going out to all of you who trudge through this season with pain in your heart for the ones you love that are no longer here. I am feeling it deeply alongside you.
Because it shouldn’t shock me by now, but it always does. This day that I hate that comes each and every year. And it falls on a Wednesday this year, just like it did all those years ago. Twenty eight years ago to the day. A day that I lived through that I will never remember, but it changed everything about my life. Twenty eight years ago today that my mom and grandfather and uncle–and the baby brother or sister that would have joined our family–were killed when a plane exploded 30,000 feet up in the air. When Christmas became about tragedy and loss. And I feel it in my utter bones each and every year–the pain of missing her. Missing this woman that I never got the chance to know that has come with it’s own special kind of grief of mourning the life that could have been. This day has been part of my life from the very beginning, and yet every year it comes in a way that shocks in its enormity. My whole childhood, starting with that very first one, Christmas was colored in pain.
But you know what? It makes me ready for Christmas.
December is my heavy month. If you know me at all, you’ve heard me say that a thousand times. It is a month of sitting in the weight of the darkness of this world–and as hard as it is, I don’t begrudge it. Because there is something about it that I appreciate. Because darkness makes light brighter, and pain makes joy sweeter. And all of it makes me draw nearer to my Savior.
For me, Christmas doesn’t make sense without the heavy. Just as we sing in this song that I love–the weary world rejoices in the birth of this infant King. And my goodness, when you have experienced true weariness, you can do nothing but fall on your knees and worship the One who came to free you from it. The One who came to break all the chains of bondage that bind us to this fallen world. The One who rewrote our stories so long ago so that they no longer end in pain, but in victory.
And my goodness, I get all sorts of giddy goosebumps when I imagine that first Christmas. The Light of the World that was born in the dead of night–history changing in an instant and yet know one knew it. Know one understood what the birth of this baby truly meant. Not even Mary or Joseph or the shepherds who came and worshipped. I’m not sure we even fully know what it means for God to become flesh and blood and walk through all of the things we will ever face. A helpless baby that needed to be held in the arms of His parents until the day came when His very arms stretched out wide upon a cross and He carried each and every one of us instead.
That is the God that I worship at Christmas. This infant King that stepped out of eternity and put on flesh to walk every painful road ahead of me that I will ever walk. The One who brought a gospel of peace into a world full of strife. Whose law is love and who fills even our worst moments with hope. He stepped into our messy lives and completely changed the story, so that even though we still walk through loss and sorrow, our story ends in beauty.
In short–this day, my tragedy, has truly taught me what it means to worship.
And when you walk through brokenness and see God’s redemption even in the worst of moments–when you are so completely bone-weary in pain and grief and yet still believing that He is good even when everything around you is not–that is a weary world rejoicing.
So if you are feeling it, my friend–it you are feeling the heaviness that this season often brings, remember the weight of what He has already carried for you. Think of this baby in a manger–our King brought so low so that He could raise us up with Him. Remember the cross, when He carried your sorrow for you so that even though your circumstances may overwhelm in this moment, this moment will never be where you forever stay. Rejoice, O weary soul, for Jesus has come with redemption in His wings, and all that is ugly and painful will one day be beautiful.
May your weariness lead you to true worship. Let all within us praise His holy name.