While the Christmas season is an incredibly joyous time of year, for many, it can also be a very difficult time. For many, it is a reminder of family members with whom they are no longer able to enjoy Christmas.
In Luke 2 we meet a woman named Anna who knew grief well. She married her husband when she was a young woman. They were married for only seven years when he died. Scripture is unclear as to whether she is 84 years old in the passage, or it has been 84 since her husband's death. Regardless, her husband died long ago, and though she no doubt continues to mourn her husband, she is clearly a devoted woman. Daily she is at the temple praying and fasting. She is devoted to her God and his service. Her grief caused her to turn to her great God.
Luke says that when she saw the baby Jesus, she came ”up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem." (2:38) Anna led a life not just of devotion but also of expectation. In just a couple of verses, we see the most amazing thing happen, this woman who was mourning the loss of her husband has been waiting, has been expecting the Messiah, and she gets to lay her eyes on him. She sees him with her own eyes. We are able to be there with her on that day and see the incredible and great joy that she has. Her response is a response of joy despite the grief in her life because she knows the joy of what her savior was going to do for her. She knew she needed a great rescue. She knew she had not saved herself by all of her time at the temple. No doubt, she was a very good woman, but she recognized how desperately she needed Jesus. That is why she responded as she did.
God himself came down in the flesh to rescue us. To rescue us not because we were good enough, not because we were smart enough, and not because people like us, but because of his never stopping, never giving up, always and forever love. That is the joy and peace that Anna knew amidst her grief. It is the only thing that kept her going.
When we grieve, we have the option to grieve as the world grieves or (with Anna) grieve as one who has a great hope in Nothing But Jesus!
If you are grieving this Christmas, continue to grieve. You should grieve. This is not the way things were meant to be. Grieve with the greatest hope the world has ever or will ever know, Jesus Christ. If you are not grieving, encourage someone you know who is, enter into their grief with them. Give them a hug and pray that Jesus would be the balm for their grief.
Let it Be Jesus... in our grief.