I woke to a light dusting of snow with flakes still falling. In the still-dark morning, it was a lovely awakening. The day seemed promising and full of anticipation.
But a shadow clouded my sleepy thoughts. My sweet William and I would go and share a great loss with dear friends this morning – a loss that cannot be explained, a grief that surely seems unfair.
As I sat in a small chapel crowded with friends and family, I thought, “We cannot take their grief away. We can only share it.” And then the Holy Spirit whispered, “God does not take our grief away either. But He did come to share it.”
My mind went back to another December in 1982 when I waited in a hospital room while my dear mother endured a treatment on her lungs, by now infested with cancer. The treatment was simply temporary relief to her breathing. The doctor had told us she only had three months to live. His diagnosis/prediction was very accurate.
It was Christmas time but there was no Christmas spirit in me. Thankfully, my extended family took my nine-year-old son with them so he could enjoy the holiday festivities. I certainly was not interested in shopping, baking cookies, or putting up a Christmas tree. My mother lay dying in a hospital bed.
She wanted me with her while the treatment was being administered. I sang to her, quoted Scripture, held her hand, and tried to appear strong for her sake. I was anything but. I was falling apart on the inside.
While she rested awhile after the treatment, I looked out of the hospital window and wondered where God was in all of this. How could people be celebrating the joyous season, how could I? The sweet whisper of the Spirit spoke to my heart, reminding me that Jesus came to the earth in human flesh for just such a reason as this, because of sin, sickness, and death. He came to share in my humanity with all of its joys and sorrows.
I am comforted to know the prophet Isaiah called Jesus a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with my grief (Isaiah 53). While Jesus lived on this green and blue planet, He purposely clothed Himself in blood cells, nerve endings, human emotions and skin just like mine. He subjected himself to life and death, to friendship and betrayal, to joy and sorrow.
And He did it all without sinning. I cannot say the same.
This is what makes my Savior the Great High Priest that He is, the One who entered the inner sanctuary behind the curtain on my behalf; the One who lives to intercede for me, the One who runs to my cry when I am tempted, tried, and suffering. (Hebrews 7:25, 6:19-20; 2:18)
Don’t we anticipate the days leading to Christmas as being joy-filled and happy? It is just not so for countless fellow travelers on this road called life. Even Mary the mother of Jesus, in the midst of her joyful moment of dedicating her precious baby at the temple, was given a grave prophecy by Simeon. “A sword will pierce your soul, too,” he told Mary.
Sorrow is part of life just as much as happiness and joy and peace and celebrations. The final Word on it all for me comes from Hebrews 13: 5b . . .
” . . . for He Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake nor let you down, relax My hold on you — assuredly not!” (Amplified Bible)
There is no greater assurance than that. And no better reason to celebrate.
Your words are so true. Thanks for sharing. GOD is totally awesome and yes HE is always there. I am truly thankful for all HE has done for me. May GOD continue to bless you each and every day.
Maria, I admire your courage. We learn so much about God during the darkest nights, don’t we?
Peggy, it seems we all rush through this season and don’t take the time to stop and post a comment to sweet people like you. This was lovely, beautifully written, and sweetly encouraging. As we all know, life is hard, Christmas isn’t always merry, and people are hurting, and I’m asking the Lord to make me more aware of those around me and not get so focused on my own agenda. What would we do without each other? What would we do without our savior?
I believe you have found one of the “secrets” of having joy, Karen – being aware of others around you. When we minister to others, even in the smallest way, the joy of the Lord just naturally fills us. May you be filled with much, much joy!
I dread the day when the Lord takes my Momma home. However, through many things in life I have realized that there is nothing that I go through that I can not lean on the Lord. I have told God that whatever happens with Momma I might not like it; but I know I will be okay because I have Him.
I can not help but think of the funny stories you have told me about your Momma. What a character she must have been. I think I would have gotten along with her really well. May you be blessed this Holiday season and only allow the good things to consume you Mrs. Peggy. I love you!
You would have loved my mother, Jennifer. She loved to laugh and have fun, like you. She would have loved you, too.
We enjoyed your company last evening. I enjoy my visit with your thoughts here. I remember your dear mother and teared up trying to read your thoughts and feelings durning her illness and death. Sometimes I realize God walks with us down roads we would choose not to travel. He knows thru this time we are learning how faithful his love can be and how we prove his word by choosing to heal. sometimes we walk this way to really be able to understand the pain of someone else on thier, walk thru the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Unless we’ve been there, we truly can’t fathom where they are treading. When we like the Lord are acquainted with sorrow we can sympathize with them and help bear thier sorrow. Being the extended hand of the Lord, to smeone in need of his love. Love reading your blogg, Peggy.
Elaine, you and your family have walked the road of sorrow. Your words ring so true, born out of the experience of walking with God in the pain.
Peggy, I tried a previous comment which perhaps did not appear or was otherwise for some reason unobserved or unread. I am now a subscriber via e-mail to your faithful missives which I am reading, and am finding them insightful and uplifting. I would also like to engage you or “someone” in a dialog about the Lockard family name, as you had mentioned the loss of your Uncle who’s name seemed very familiar to me ( the same) and I am becoming a bit of a student of the “Family Tree”. Looking forward to your response. Yours, Leo A. Lockard
Mr. Lockard, I sent a replay last week to your first comment. Sorry it took me so long. Here is a copy of my response in case you did not receive it.
“My grandfather was Rev. Charles Edgebert Lockard, born in 1887. He died on March 3, 1964. He was the pastor of the Fairdale Church of God for 25 years in the Louisville, KY area. He and his wife, Bertha Ray Lockard had three children. My mother was the oldest. My uncle Leo was the youngest. He was born in 1926, I believe.
I would like to know if there is any connection in our families. I’ve not met many people with the name Lockard, spelled the same. Perhaps we can correspond by email.”
Here is the link to my Uncle Leo’s obituary: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/louisville/obituary.aspx?n=leo-a-lockard&pid=141370324
His middle initial was A also, I think it was for Albert.
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