It’s 5 days away from Christmas day, the most wonderful time of the year! I am mentally running through my to-do list:
– What last minute gifts do I need to buy my shopping?
– What groceries do I need to be sure all the goodies are made this weekend?
– I have laundry that needs to be done (daily until Jesus comes)
– I need to clean my house
The list seemed to go on and on in my mind until an email I received today stopped my mid-thought. The subject line read, “Urgent Prayer Requests”. As I read the needs presented, suddenly I realized that Christmas this year just became very different for some very dear friends.
– I read the news that a precious sister in Christ, Debbie Mann, lost her husband, Jeff, quite suddenly after about six weeks of illness. They have a 8 year old daughter, Maggie, and as one can imagine, they’re quite devastated.
– I read an update regarding a precious man who has been a pillar in both our church and our community for many years, Jim Gooch, advising that he has been moved to the Hospice House due to the cancer. He has three adult sons and one year ago today, 12/20/11, they said good-bye to their Mother who went to be with the Lord.
This email pretty much stopped me in my tracks. Suddenly, my list of things to do didn’t seem so important. Instead of adding more things to my list, I found myself stopping to pray for these families to be comforted at this time of grief and need. Thankfully, these family members know Jesus as their Savior; they don’t sorrow as those without hope. I know I can cover these sweet brothers and sisters in prayer, asking the Lord to wrap His arms around them, but I know their hearts are hurting.
I got tears in my eyes thinking that, for these families, Christmas will forever feel “different”. My own father went to heaven 10 years go, March 14, 2002. I miss him every single day and I particularly remember the events that took place on the day he died every March; but I especially miss my dad during the special times we used to share, one of which was Christmas. It’s simply not the same without him.
And I’m sure for these families, Christmas will never be the same either…at least not on this earth. But one day…well, thankfully, we have HOPE.
The tree has been decorated with lights all aglow
The gifts have been wrapped with ribbons and bows
There’s food prepared that’s fit for a king
Everything is in place, except for one thing….
There’s a chair that sits empty up at the head
of the table where once you blessed our great spread
We’ve less packages under the tree, one less stocking, too;
They’re all missing now because we’re missing you.
I cried out the Lord, “Why we must lose
Ones so dear; this is not what we choose!”
But He tenderly lifted me up on His knee,
Wiped my tears and spoke gently to me,
“Sweet child, I know your heart breaks today;
And My heart hurts for you, but you see
Your loved one has finished the race set before them
And now they celebrate in heaven with Me!
There’s a seat with their name at My table
It has been reserved just for them
And one day we’ll all enjoy the marriage supper together
for all eternity, but until then…
This you can know with surety
That just as I’m holding you;
I’m holding that special loved one you miss
So you’re together because I’m holding both of you.
It’s okay to cry, let the tears flow!
You’ll miss this one that’s gone;
But when you wipe your eyes, you may rejoice
knowing one day you, too, will be home.
-Robin Allman Riggins 12/20/12
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
God, thank You for giving us Hope. This Hope, Mary wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. Born her son; born her Savior…Jesus who came that we might have eternal life! Eternal HOPE!