Christmas is typically my favorite time of year. I am always thrilled when the stores start carrying ornaments and those little twinkly lights before Halloween. (I realize I’m not supposed to enjoy this since it really does reveal how over-the-top materialistic we all are, but I am always so eager to start the whole season that I look right past all that.)
I’m going to be completely honest with you. This season has been awful for me. I saw those first signs of Christmas in August (!?!) and started to get excited about the upcoming season. I got out my Christmas CDs early and was impatiently waiting until Thanksgiving so I could get out the tree. Usually I put up our tree before Thanksgiving because I just can’t wait anymore. But this year, I decided to wait until after Thanksgiving so that I could really focus on the things for which I am grateful.
We always drive to Houston to visit my family for Thanksgiving and then spend Christmas here in Dallas. My dad’s mom, my Mamaw Rogers, was in the hospital with a blockage in her colon, and I was looking forward to being able to visit with her while we were down. Before we left Dallas, I didn’t realize that this was going to be the last time I would ever get to talk with her. Once we got there, things got much worse, and on the day we left to return to Dallas, my dad and his siblings asked the doctors to take her off of life support. She died 6 days later.
I found out yesterday that a friend of mine took his life this past weekend. I had talked with him the day before, and he had seemed fine. He was a believer, and I trust that he is in the presence of our Lord right now, without any more pain. Although I am glad that both my friend and my sweet Mamaw are dancing at the feet of our Savior, I am struggling to figure out how to manage my life without these precious loved ones.
As the summer shifts to fall and into winter, a lot of us can get the blues. There’s something about the temperature dropping and the shorter days and longer nights that causes us to sleep and eat more, which can lead some into depression. For most of us, these temporary feelings of sadness don’t really affect our day that much, and the joy of seeing our loved ones and celebrating Jesus’ birthday more than makes up for our seasonal stress. But for others, these feelings greatly impair their lives, causing them to take drastic actions like my friend did.
Job talked about having joy even though he was in unrelenting pain. As Christians, we are not immune to depression. Some of us just need some time to let the feelings fade, others need to seek and undergo treatment of some sort. But we can all know that though we sorrow, we do not sorrow as those who have no hope. Jesus was full of sorrow. Isaiah 53:3 says that “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” He knows what it’s like to really mourn. And He knows each and every one of our hearts. He sees our pain when we plaster on the smile for our friends and family. He sees our tears even as we say we’re fine. He already knows how we are feeling and welcomes us to pour out our hearts to Him.
Last night, in a moment of overwhelming sadness, I just climbed up into His lap and shared my sorrow with my Lord. What a privilege it is to be able to do this! What a loving God we serve! I was reminded that there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). I can trust that these painful feelings of sadness will lessen. I can trust that my Mamaw and my friend are not in any more pain, and I can trust that one day I will dance with them, worshipping our God together as brothers and sisters in Christ.
We may be SAD with
but we must always remember that we are also
My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.