My wife and I were invited to speak at a “Blue Christmas” service for those who are grieving the passing of loved ones. The time for reflection, sharing and worship was just as much for us as for the other who attended. Four brief devotions were given as symbolized by the lighting of candles. This is the reflection I presented:
Each of us have our own experiences of grief, whether the person we miss was a family member or friend, whether their passing recent or years ago.
My candle primarily reminds me of the loss of immediate family members: my mother in 1974, by sister in 1991 and our daughter, Sarah, three months ago.
As Linda and I have walked this recent grief journey, various portions of the Bible that we have read day by day for decades have taken on new relevance. For example, I was reminded of the chapters in the Gospel of John where Jesus comforted the Disciples on the evening of the Last Supper. After this meeting consider reading John, chapters 14-16. I’ll make a few brief comments on this passage.
Notice two ways Jesus consoled the Disciples who were warned again of His impending death in Jerusalem.
1. Jesus validated their emotions.
We see this in chapter 16: “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart… Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, …you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy … I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:5,6,20,22).
Notice that He understood that they would sorrow. He didn’t ignore or minimize their grief. Even so, you and I have permission to grieve; that is why this service has been prepared for us today. Perhaps you have had well-meaning people say that you shouldn’t cry or experience your level of sorrow. But emotions are real and we have permission to express them. However, grief is a journey that should eventually move us through stages of sadness into increasing comfort, peace and even hope-based joy through the Gospel.
2. Jesus comforted them with His promises.
Notice four sources of consolation that Christ spoke of in John 14.
* The promise of Christ’s resurrection
This victory is implied in John 14:19: “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.”
* The promise of the Holy Spirit:
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever- the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16-18). What a comfort we have in this promise. When we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord, His Spirit comes to live in us. So we are never really alone (Eph. 1:13,14).
* The promise of Christ’s Words
The Holy Spirit of God would remind the apostles of the Son of God’s teaching. This is also predicts the completion of the Bible with the New Testament (2 Tim. 3:16,17). “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:25,26). What a comfort we have in reading and believing God’s Word.
* The promise of Christ’s peace
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 14:27; 16:33). Peace that surpasses natural understanding brings such comfort to grieving hearts.
The day after this Blue Christmas meeting, a friend sent us this new poem that he composed to encourage us. May it bless you as well.
(JUST) A MATTER OF TIME
By: Dennis Newton
I remember the days of your loving ways.
The smile you showed, the way you glowed,
I recall the moments we shared.
Time will surely tell, that all is now well.
Although there is pain and memories remain.
The heart knows how much you cared.
When nightly dreams come a calling,
And your kindness serenades my mind.
I know I will see you when God’s time has come.
It’s just matter of time.
If I had a choice, I would seek your voice,
On knees I would pray, for just another day.
Just one more moment in the sun.
But for now I know, you had to go,
Such is God’s plan as is for all of man.
Rest on now, your race has been run.
Though I miss you with all of my heart,
I know God’s mercy is loving and kind.
By His grace we will dance once again.
It’s just a matter of time.
.We have also been blessed by this song by Craig Aven: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zufPnJXKbCE