Death is a part of life that is always difficult. It is especially hard this time of year. In the course of a few days I sat down with someone who lost a loved one in sudden fashion, with someone who was making the decision to place her father on hospice care, and with a woman whose husband was losing a battle against advanced cancer. I wonder what these holidays are going to be like for these families.
In each conversation words did not come easy. What do you say to someone who had lost someone they loved just a few days earlier? I avoided the clichés and simply acknowledged the magnitude of the loss, adding that they would be in my prayers. For the woman facing her father's severely declining health I did my best to support her, validating her love, her efforts and her advocacy for her father for the last several years. For the woman facing the loss of her husband I could do little more than promise support in the coming days.
As I prayed for these families tonight my thoughts turned to the life that came at Christmas. When Christ was born, the Jewish nation was in a time of great darkness. God had not spoken for over 400 years, the voices of the prophets seemingly silenced. The people were at the mercy of the ruthless Roman empire, ruled by an immoral King appointed by the pagan emperor. They were heavily taxed and oppressed. It was a seemingly hopeless time. Where was the light?
The light was coming, the darkness would not last. As promised through the prophet Isaiah-
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned...
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever." Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 NIV
I pray that this Christmas, for these patients and for the so many others who are dealing with loss, pain and darkness, that the light that came into the world 2000 years ago will shine for them, bringing hope, peace, and one day, joy.