The holidays are here. For many of us we look forward to this time of year with much excitement. But for many these days come with dread and anxiousness. And for others, it comes with both – excitement and dread. Holidays are a time for family and friends to gather and with that brings empty chairs and missed faces! I know at least ten families that are facing their first holiday season without a loved one this year – a dad, a mom, a brother, a son, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I also know of some families that will have some empty seats because of other reasons – deployment, illness, broken families, severed relationships, rebellious children, divorce… Whether it is the first holiday season with those empty places or the second or third or twentieth it is still hard! And it doesn’t matter the reason they are empty -the fact is someone is missing and our hearts have a hole in them.
But God reminds us in His Word that even in the midst of deep sorrow and grief, there can also be joy and thanksgiving.
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30:11-12
This week I listened to the She Reads Truth podcast about this same topic – Mourning and Dancing. So much of what was said resonated deep in my soul. The other day I was talking to my husband about making dressing for Thanksgiving and immediately started missing Daddy – I think it was his favorite part of the holiday (even over seeing us sometimes – LOL!) But at the same time we have so much to be joyful for – I look at Eloise Dale and am not only reminded of him because of her name but I also see his crystal blue eyes every time I look at her.
I think about Mom and how last Thanksgiving we were at the hospital with her not knowing if were going to loose her just a few months months after we lost Dad. But I am rejoicing in the fact she is here and doing so much better this year. We are thankful for how far God has brought her both physically and emotionally.
Yes we are going to weep; we are going to mourn; we are going to lament. But our God is bigger than our heartache and our grief. His love is deeper and more powerful than our deepest pain. I am not saying this makes everything easy but what I am saying is we can rest on the truth of who HE is and the truth of knowing He will turn our sorrow into joy. And this truth will sustain us in the meantime.
So yes during this holiday season don’t try to hold the tears back – weep and mourn but don’t forget to laugh and dance as well! And it’s okay to do both at the very same time!!!
Yes there will be some empty places around our table this year, but there are also many seats that are filled and in that we can be thankful!
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:4