Today is Christmas Eve, at least in most places in the world. It’s an exciting time for children who may have left cookies and milk for Santa whom they hope will come down the chimney. For them, sleep will not come easily.
But for the parents who look at the scene through different eyes, there are different emotions. They hope the kids will fall asleep quickly so they can tackle the last-minute projects, putting together toys and assembling the gifts which will delight their wide-eyed children in the morning, probably long before the sun rises in the eastern sky.
Ah, for the delight and excitement of Christmas through the eyes of a little child! It can’t help but be different for some adults, though, who look back and remember some of their Christmases, which were disappointing and unfulfilling.
Question: How do you suppose God the Father felt on that Christmas Eve long ago, knowing that His one and only Son, the Prince of Heaven, was about to emerge from Mary’s tummy and join humankind? Was He sad? Did He look beyond those 33 eventful years to the day He would raise Him from the grave by His great power, never again to feel the sting of pain or separation?
Only those who have lost someone dear to their hearts, can, even in a very small measure, understand what God was going through! Steve Saint, however, has tasted of that pain. As a little boy, he lost his father who was martyred at the hands of the Aucas when he and four other brave men laid down their lives taking them the Good News of Christmas.
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. Matthew 1:24-25
Steve grew up and married, following the Lord in his father’s footsteps. Then his daughter, Stephenie, a beautiful and talented girl who loved the Lord and was also serving Him, suddenly and unexpectedly died, leaving a very empty spot in Steve’s life. The following, used with his permission, describes how he felt at Christmas.
He wrote, “What significance can there be in gifts and carols when that happy bouncing little girl with pigtails–grown up to be our stately and beautiful daughter–is not here to sing with us? Every tradition of sound and smell that makes this season jolly, reminds me that my heart has been rent.
“This Christmas I am still safe and warm but my heart feels the icy blasts. My soul is locked out in the cold while my mind tries to make merry inside. What can redeem this Christmas for a broken-hearted father? Only the return of my precious child.
“I finally begin to grasp a reality of this season. It took a Father’s broken heart to make my place at the great Celebration! That same Father spent the first Christmas without His Child to buy me a spot at His banquet table. With His grief, He has enfolded my little girl in eternal love. By His agony, I will see my precious little girl again and my heart will be healed.
“I can finally feel the icy fingers that stab at that other Daddy’s heart. Many of His children are still lost in the cold. What a terrible pain it has taken to make me feel the hurt He bore to bring us warmth inside.”
Christmas is more than gifts, tinsel, and celebration! The joy of His coming was bought by the loneliness of a His absence in Heaven that we might forever be united in His presence in the Father’s house.
Remember the words of Jesus in the Upper Room. “I am going to prepare a place for you… that where I am there you may be also!”
Thank God He knows your loneliness, your pain, or your joy and gladness. He knows and understands.
Resource reading: Matthew 1:18-25.