I will never forget waking up on Christmas 2016. My phone had 3 missed calls from hospice, and I knew what that meant. My mom was diagnosed with cancer just weeks before and it had already spread throughout her body and it was bad. I will never forget having to wake up my brother and call my sister with the news. No one prepares you for how to deal with loss, what to say, or how to begin that conversation. It was quite literally the worst morning of my life. I was a young father, and I was without my mom. Of all mornings for this to happen, in just hours my young kids would wake up to the thrill of Christmas morning, and I would have to pull it together enough to not ruin their Christmas morning, but also not completely shrug aside the reality of what had just happened. It was an awful morning on what is usually the most joyous of days.
As I consider that season in my life, I have learned so much in the last 6 years. It is easy for me to feel like I was robbed of something. How unfair is it that my mom was taken from me on Christmas morning. But I have to remind myself of the promise that God is with us. Matthew 1:23 says:
“Behold, he virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” which means God with us.”Matthew 1:23
We are also reminded that God will be with us in our lives, in our darkest moments, and that he will never leave or forsake us. Matthew 28:20 says
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:20
Not only was he with me that morning, I believe I was able to experience God’s graciousness and even his sense of humor. That year, Christmas morning fell on a Sunday and I knew it would be best for my family to attend. Plus I’m in ministry and I needed to run the video switcher, ha. I wanted to be there, I didnt want to sit at home and cry, I had a sense that I needed to worship, hear the Word, and be with our friends and family. Brighton and Pata were singing some songs in front of the church, and I was able to get a recording of this gem. My son, front and center, was picking his nose. Not like the little scratch/pick combo, but like his index finger was gone, and he was twisting it around.
While I was filming all this and running the video switcher, I remember thinking how much I needed this. God was with my family, and I was reminded of what I had, not what I had lost. Up there was my middle son Brighton, who often reminds me most of myself. It’s hard to explain, but it was like God reminded me of my future, what he had done, the gift of my children, and without my mom, none of this would be possible. I had so many wonderful memories of her. There were many lessons learned, and even a season of difficulty and distance. God allowed us to reconcile and cry and pray together just days before her passing. He was gracious enough to allow me to apologize, to ask for forgiveness, and pray with my mom. I remember being afraid of what the future would hold. I was 33 years old, I had no idea what to do, or what that meant to not have my mom around, I was afraid.
Life is hard. Life isn’t a Hallmark movie. Sometimes you loose your mom on Christmas morning. Or your loved one has a cancer diagnosis just weeks before Christmas. Or you loose your job, or the countless things that gets thrown at us. There are so many things that come our way. So many fears that may or may not manifest themselves in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I have a sense that our culture is afraid. Afraid of what the future holds. Political fears, financial fears, health fears, and fears of wars. But we are reminded that God is with us. God sent us son Jesus so we wouldn’t be afraid or anxious. We celebrate Christmas because of Him. This is a season of hope.
O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name