Being an Elvis fan, I can’t tell you the number of times that I have listened to his most famous Christmas song, Blue Christmas. While Elvis pines in the song for the company of a lost girlfriend, I’m sure that many during This season have a blue Christmas for different reasons. Those facing the Christmas season for the first time after the passing of a loved one certainly might feel that impulse. In fact, this year as my family will gather, we will do so for the first time without the presence of my Grams.
While it may seem understandable and even natural to have the grief you felt at the passing of a loved one resurface during the holiday season, this sort of grief can easily become a tool in our Enemy’s deceptive hands. Just as the you seem to get on with your normal life, the Holiday hits you. You must decorate the house alone. The extended family must discuss the “plan” for Christmas instead of falling back into the familiar routines. Instead of buying a gift for the loved one to place under the tree, a special “Christmasy” arrangement of flowers must make its way to the gravesite. In this our Enemy seeks to demoralize and discourage those who believe from finding any joy in this season at all.
So what should we do? How do we combat the deceptions of our enemy? Let me offer just a few words from two wise older believers we find in Luke’s gospel. Simeon and Anna had already lived many years before seeing that first Christmas that we read about in chapter 2. Both of them as we read their story in 2:25-38 longed to see the Messiah come into the world, and into their lives. Both of them had certainly experienced the loss of a loved one. Simeon knew his life would not end before seeing the Blessed Child (2:26). Think of all the family and friends who must have passed on as he waited to see the Messiah. Anna more than likely had buried her husband after only seven years of marriage, living on as a widow until her eighty-fourth birthday (2:37).
Grief could have easily overwhelmed them both, yet Scripture says that they both devoted themselves to serving the Lord. Scripture calls Simeon righteous and devout with the Holy Spirit resting upon him as he waited on Jesus (2:25). Scriptures says that Anna lived as a prophetess, not departing from serving in the worship of the temple (2:37). Instead of being blue, these two longed for the Savior by serving Him. Through their constant service their minds became more focused on Christ. How would your Christmas look different if every time your heart filled with grief, you emptied it by serving the Lord at your church or local mission project? Maybe this seems too overwhelming to you. Could you then invite another Christian to spend time with you and remind you of all the joy that you have in Christ through fellowship?
That said, notice something else. Simeon and Anna certainly had lost loved ones, but these losses intensified their longing for Christ. While service helps to keep our minds from the lies of our Enemy, only a true, genuine love for Christ can keep us focused on our true consolation. When we experience grief it only becomes sinful if it intensifies our inward turmoil, or our outward veneration of the deceased. Does your grief turn your focus inward, to the turmoil of your own desires? Does your grief make you long for your lost loved one? Or does your grief help you to remember and long for Jesus?
To experience a grief that motivates us to long for the presence of our Lord and Savior, begin by recognizing the situation of your loved one. If they were believers, they stand now in the presence of Jesus. They worship him as Simeon and Anna did. Do not long for them to be with you celebrating Christmas, long to be with them celebrating Christ. If your loved one did not believe in Christ, recognize as Simeon did, that without Jesus no man, Jew or Gentile could ever have any consolation. Begin to long for the light and hope that only Jesus can bring. Grief can help us to better glorify God as Simeon did in 2:29-32 or Anna did continually according to 2:38. We can lift our voices and praise God even in the midst a Blue Christmas.
This brings me to my final point. Notice that both Simeon and Anna seek to tell others about the difference Christ has made in their life (2:33-34, 38). What if this year, instead of lighting a candle for a lost loved one, you found another grieving person and spent time to tell them about Christ? What if instead of decorating alone, you bonded with another grieving person through decorating and discussion of this New-Born King? What if instead of placing Christmas flowers on lonely graves, you sought to place in a grieving neighbor’s house flowers and the good news of a New Born King!
My hopes and prayers for you this Christmas if you have felt blue come as the same ones I have been praying for my own family.
- I pray that your grief can remind you to long for Jesus.
- I pray that your grief can motivate you to serve in your church this season.
- I pray that your grief can inspire you to help others realize the difference Jesus makes.
GOD BLESS YOU AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!