Grief creeping in round the edges.

Exhaustion and beauty together.

Christmas Day is now passed. It is a time of thanksgiving, for people that we have spent time with, gifts exchanged, worship in church – atmospheric and inspiring! So much to appreciate.

Despite my strenuous and best efforts, I still find it hard not to grieve as well. I think that I have lost three close relatives in three years, and there is something about the intensity of that, exacerbated by the restrictions of the pandemic, that just seem hard to overcome. I suspect I need to try less hard, and just let things be. It is exhausting trying to be content.

My parents in law, loved showing hospitality at Christmas. They would have the flat decorated, their table would look amazing, they loved to cook food, and for people to chat together. There were elegant candles and tiny shiny angels. They were truly convivial people, and they enjoyed creating a welcoming and lovely space.

There is a cliche about loss, that when some one dies, that there is an empty place at the table. For me, it feels so much bigger than that because the table itself has gone. There is a loss of the whole experience, which will never return.

I am so grateful for the patience of God. He lets me be sorrowful when I need to. When I am trying hard to be optimistic, He gives me space to acknowledge my grief. In Matthew chapter 5 verse 4 Jesus says ‘ blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted’. And in these days of mixed emotions, the presence of God is indeed a solace.

Eternal God, You are so patient and loving when we hurt. Sometimes we try to hard to heal, as it feels as if we should be better by now, that people don’t want to listen to our continued sadnesses. We exhaust ourselves trying to be upbeat, and grief creeps back in around the edges. Lord Jesus thank you that You love us as we are, that You are our Emmanuel, the God who is with us. Thankyou that You reach down to us, and enfold us in your love, and let us rest. Holy spirit we know You transform our souls, in your perfect timing. Meantime, help us just to wait, quietly, patiently, but with the hope that one day things will indeed be better, Amen.

Overload- one thing too many!

Christmas is coming.

My goodness, I can’t believe that Christmas seems so close! Decorations are up in house windows, shops and streets. The lights are symbols of hope in dark days, and in many ways are welcome, however early it seems.

However I think there are mixed feelings for those who mourn, a desire to look forward with hope, alongside an awareness of the strain of missing a loved one, and feeling that no one else understands. You can be making plans, but some one us missing, the landscape feels different everything jarrs, if there is a Christmas card that never arrives, an empty chair, and a deep feeling of loss. Outwardly things might look very similar, but inside the feeling is different. People are often doing their best to help, and you don’t want to hurt their feelings. So you try hard to go through the motions, whilst nursing a broken heart.

We know the comforting bible verses inside out – ‘ God is close to the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ Psalm 34: 18 and sometimes it is ok to stop filling our time with being busy, to pause, to let the hurt bubble up, and to weep. It is honest, and that is often when we feel God the closest, when we tell Him of our pain.

When we try to push the pain down, and don’t acknowledge it, that’s when we go into overload. It means that we overreact to unforeseen frustrations, pressures at work, the unexpected bill, the driver who cuts out in front of us, the ill judged words of a friend. Sometimes it can just be one thing too many which sends us into a tailspin. We are trying so hard, it doesn’t take much to derail us.

If we are hurting this Christmas, for whatever reason, a broken relationship, ill health, disrupted plans, the loss of a loved one, it is ok to take time to be with God and to cry out to him. He notices our every tear, and brings us comfort and grace, reminding us that we are never alone, and that our cries are heard. If we are able to slow down, and talk to God about our sadnesses, He can minister to us, and this is when we find the strength and the peace we need.

Gracious God, You search and You know us, before even a word is on our tongue, You know what is on our hearts. Forgive us for the times we pretend everything is alright, as sometimes we deceive even ourselves. We get so overloaded and so frustrated, short tempered and upset. Lord Jesus, come alongside us, and speak Your Word of truth, the truth that sets us free. Help us to know it is ok to be real with You, and with trusted loved ones. Help us through the power of your holy spirit, to find safe places to lament and to be real, so that we can find that healing and centredness we yearn for. Grant peace to all who are anxious about facing Christmas by themselves, and may they find that Your love will encircle and strengthen them, Amen.