Christmas is one of my favorite times of year! With gift-giving as a primary love language, I relish the excuse to bless people. I love the music, the movies (except for the Santa propaganda), the decorations, getting to see folks I haven’t been able to for awhile, and the amazing food. Everything is so festive and fun!

But when you’re broadsided with the heartache of a missing face at the table, it can suck all the happiness of this time of year away in an instant. I miss my firstborn SO much! Of the five years he has been gone, this is the second hardest for me (that first year being the worst). They say, “Time heals all wounds,” but no one can tell you how long it will take your deepest hurts to heal. Just when you think you’re on the mend, something unexpected triggers a memory, and there you are, bleeding all over again.

Milestone occasions are the toughest. When our younger son and his wife were married, I thought, “Jeremi should be there with his brother’s groomsmen.” When our precious granddaughter was born, I couldn’t help but think what a fantastic uncle Jeremi could have been.

It’s times like these that I am so grateful for my Savior. He left His home, a place of ultimate comfort, to interject His life into our world of pain and grief. Isaiah 53:3 says He was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” The following verses say He took all of ours sorrows and weaknesses on Himself, so that we could experience His peace and healing (vv. 4-5).

Hebrews 2:14-18 & 4:14-16 tell us that, by taking on humanity, Jesus became well acquainted with the pressures we all face every day. That’s why we can be confident of receiving the help we need, when we approach His Father’s “throne of grace” in prayer. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 describes our heavenly Father as “the God of all comfort,” who not only encourages us when we’re down, but gives us enough comfort to help others, when they’re in trouble!

So to those facing an empty chair this holiday season, I offer this prayer: May the presence of our wounded Healer bring you the comfort and the peace you need to walk through the pain in your heart right now. May you remember the joys of good times past with your loved ones and anticipate sweet reunions in heaven. Above all, may the calm assurance of God’s loving presence and the power that was demonstrated in Christ’s defeat of sin and death give you the strength to resist the “spirit of heaviness” that threatens to rob you of your Christmas joy and enable you to put on the “garment of praise,” instead (Isaiah 61:1-3). All His very best to you today and throughout the year to come! Amen.

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