Years ago, my aunt gave Robby and me a beautiful puzzle for Christmas. We’ve worked on that thing for years, and we finally completed it this month! I thought I’d be happy to finish it and reclaim my dining table.
But once we were down to the final few pieces, we became nostalgic. We began to think about all our experiences over the past several years and about our loved ones who have passed on.
Just as my mood was turning from merry to melancholy, we realized our 1,000-piece puzzle had only 999 pieces.
Suddenly, that one missing piece symbolized all those who are now missing in our lives, from our sweet kitty Sue to my late grandmother. It was like the hidden holes in our hearts were made visible, right there on the dinner table. I started to cry. Then Robby said Sue probably ate the missing piece, and we laughed. It seemed appropriate somehow.
The emotions of loss and grief seem especially cruel at Christmastime as they settle over our merriment like a blanket of snow. What’s even worse is that we’re taught that it’s inappropriate to feel anything but happiness around the holidays. It’s as if negative emotions aren’t spiritual enough for Christmas.
But where does this idea come from? Why do we feel that sadness and loss are interlopers in the Christmas scene? Perhaps we need a refresher on the real meaning (and cost) of Christmas.
Cost of Christmas
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of the Christ, or the Anointed One, whose name is Jesus. Through His life, death, and resurrection, He brought salvation to mankind. That’s why the angel spoke of “great joy” when he announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. (See Luke 2:10-11.)
At Christmas, we recount the story of the birth of Jesus, His parents Mary and Joseph, the heralding angel, the shepherds, and the wise men who came from far away.
But this year I keep wondering, what about God the Father? What was He going through during the miraculous birth of Jesus?
I’m sure the Father was glad to bring salvation near to us. I’m sure that, like any good parent, He was proud of Jesus’ sacrifice. However, I can’t help but think that the Father was also sad.
We know that Jesus was fully God and fully man. Although He spoke to the Father constantly through prayer, this was the first time that He was physically separate from the Him—and not just for a day or a week but for 33 years! This idea is hard to understand mentally, yet our hearts empathize with the feeling of separation, and perhaps even loss, that the Father and Son must have felt toward one another.
One in Heaven. One on Earth.
Our gift of Christmas came at God’s expense.
When we lose loved ones, we feel like our lives are incomplete. They’re in Heaven, and we’re here on Earth.
But the good news—the great news!—is that God is in the business of restoration. Just as the Son reclaimed His position at the right hand of the Father, so we, the children of God, will claim our rightful place with Him in Heaven. That’s where we’ll find our missing pieces.
Encouragement for Christmas
If you’re struggling this season, I encourage you to let go of worldly expectations. Christmas isn’t a time for us to be fake with our loved ones or with God. It’s a time to remember that God is real and holy, and that through His sacrifice, the missing pieces of our Christian family will be restored.
If you need more peace this season, start with a simple prayer like this one:
“Thank you, Father, for all that you have done for me. Help me to remember the miracle of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, and to appreciate what it cost you. Please give me peace and comfort, especially during this season when I miss my loved ones more than ever. I trust that all things happen according to your plan, and that you love me and want good things for me. Thank you, Father. In the name of Jesus, the reason for every season. Amen.”
May you come to know the heart of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—this Christmas season.
“I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
I want to hear from you! How is the Lord helping you deal with loss during the Christmas season? Are you helping others who are going through a difficult time?
Pit it for later:
What a beautiful post. Even though it has been over five years ago that my mom went to her home in heaven, I struggle with that empty seat, that “missing piece”. Thanks for writing on a subject that many struggle with during the holidays: loss and grief.
Thanks for the kind comment, Beckie. It’s hard to handle loss when everyone around you is happy, isn’t it? I pray the Lord will give all of us–including you and your family–His peace and comfort this Christmas.