“There’s a grief that can’t be spoken. There’s a pain goes on and on.”
Thus sings a young man (in the musical Les Miserables) after his friends have died in battle. And it was these heart-wrenching lyrics from the song Empty Chairs, Empty Tables that echoed in my mind as I drove to the airport a few days before Christmas.
Although I was over-the-moon excited to hug my son who was coming home for the holidays, my heart mourned for two moms who will never hug their sons this side of heaven.
A week earlier, their eighteen-year-old sons were killed in a vehicle accident while driving in our town. I didn’t know the young men. Never met the families. But my heart still aches like an open wound whenever I think of them; pray for them.
Sadly, they’re not alone this Christmas season. I have several friends who celebrated Christ in the midst of a grief that can’t be spoken…
The death of an elderly father. The loss of an infant grandson. A broken marriage. A pre-school child with cancer. Someone facing a double mastectomy. So many lives touched by a pain that goes on and on.
I try to make sense of it all especially during Christmas when hearts are meant to be merry and bright. A friend told me that tragedies like these remind us to hold our loved ones close, forgive and keep short accounts, and share Jesus. Another woman, whose husband was killed, said, “Instead of asking why this happened, I ask how I can live to honor God despite my circumstances.”
Wise words, but I also opened my Bible to Matthew because I thought of those ancient moms who grieved for their sons—martyred babes, slain by the sword when Jesus was born.
For even though a bright star led the Magi to worship the Christ Child, the troubled soul of King Herod resulted in the blood-thirsty slaughter of children.
“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.’”
When I look at the current mayhem and sorrow in the world, has anything changed since that blessed year when Christ was born?
After all, one of the Magi’s gifts was Myrrh, a bitter perfume, that breathed “gathering gloom, sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in the stone-cold tomb.”
However, outward appearances can be deceiving.
Jesus wasn’t born to spare folks from pain and death on earth. He came as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. To prove God’s great love by dying for us while we were still sinners. And His resurrection guarantees us new life when He’ll wipe away every tear and there will be no more death.
“Rachel wept…refused to be comforted.” Maybe you’re mourning too.
Just remember, when we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we may have life in His name, it truly is possible to experience His peace and comfort that defies human logic…
Even in this grief that can’t be spoken.
References: Matthew 2:16-18, John 1:29, Romans 5:8, John 20:31, Rev. 21:4 & lyrics from We Three Kings of Orient Are