December 18, 2018. • Lee Faler
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. This isn’t the case for many though, is it? For my family it was April 6, 2017. The same day that my wife and I were welcoming our youngest son, Patton, into the world, my grandfather entered the hospital, never to walk out. This year, as my family celebrates Christmas, we will do so with an empty chair at the table.
Our family is not alone. The fact is that many this Christmas will mourn, grieve, and force smiles because of the empty chairs in their lives. As pastors, we have the joy and privilege of ministering to our church members many of whom are grieving this Christmas. We need to remember, brother pastors, that nothing is more practical for grieving than the gospel.
So how can we as pastors help our church members apply the gospel to their grieving during Christmas? I think we can help our church members in the middle of their grief by applying the gospel in 3 ways.
1. Remember our great high priest.
Christmas tells us that we do not have a Savior who is not sympathetic with our pain. He was made like us in every way, and He knows what it’s like to grieve. We have a Savior that stood at a graveside and wept over His friend Lazarus. He sympathizes with us in our grief, because He himself is well acquainted with grief. Because He was like us, we can draw near to Him with confidence to find help in our time of need. Pastors, help your people remember this gospel truth. Jesus sympathizes with us in our pain, and is a source of help.
2. Remember the reality of “Immanuel”.
Out of all the names for Jesus, this one is my favorite. Immanuel. God with us. In the Old Testament God moves with His people through a pillar of fire, a cloud, and the tabernacle. In the New Testament the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Before His ascension, Jesus promised He would not leave us alone; He would send a helper. This is only a fringe of the glory that is our gospel. We are never alone. Jesus dwelt among us, the Holy Spirit lives inside of us! He is our comforter. Remind your people brothers, that because of the work of Christ, God is literally, always with them.
3. Remember the temporary nature of suffering.
Finally brothers, remind your people that even though their pain hurts, and is very much real, it is not forever. Paul reminds us that our pain is temporary. Our pain is preparing us for glory that will one day be revealed. Our pain is not worth comparing to the glory we will one day behold. Our pain is light. Our pain is temporary. One day, because of Jesus, we will be freed from the power of sin, and the presence of sin. Everything touched by sin will be forever healed and we will see Jesus face to face.
So for some of us, Christmas may not be the most wonderful time of the year, but we know that one day, the truths of this familiar hymn will be made sight:
“No more let sin and sorrow grow. Nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found.”