Well, here we are. It’s less than a week before Christmas and I finally finished all my shopping today. I made my list, checked it twice, hit all of my favorite stores—and came home totally exhausted.
After dropping the shopping bags in the middle of the living room floor and collapsing onto the sofa with a dramatic sigh, I told my son who is home from grad school for the holidays that sometimes being middle-aged is hard on a girl.
His reply? “Mom, I don’t think fifty-five is in the middle.”
After wondering for a moment if a parent can still “ground” a twenty-five year old, I found myself laughing hysterically. After all, he was right. I am only “middle- aged” if I live to be a hundred and ten. To make matters worse, I was wearing memory foam shoes and bifocals at the time. That’s when it hit me: I have officially turned into my mother.
Then, just as quickly as the laugher came, it faded into tears when I remembered for at least the twentieth time this afternoon that my mom will be spending her first Christmas in heaven.
“Christmas in heaven.” It is much easier for me to say those words than “this is my first Christmas without my mother.” Since June, there have been many firsts for our family—my first birthday without her, my son’s first birthday without her, and our first Thanksgiving without her—not to mention the seemingly insignificant, everyday moments that cause me to still reach for the phone to call her.
Sadly, for the first time in my life, my mother is not walking with me through a valley. Mourning her loss is the first sorrow I have ever experienced without her, and that would truly be crushing—were it not for grace.
If I know anything after walking with Jesus all these years, it is that in every unexpected moment we face, God offers us unexpected grace. Even in the “suddenlies:”
“My life was going along fine, and then suddenly...” “My job was going great, and then suddenly...”
“My marriage was thriving, and then suddenly...” “My health was fine, and then suddenly...”
Ever been blindsided by a “suddenly?” Maybe it was a letter from a lawyer. A voicemail from the doctor’s office. An unexpected meeting with the boss. For me, it was a phone call in the middle of the night telling me that my mother was in an ambulance, unresponsive. In that difficult, unexpected moment—when my soul wanted to scream and my knees wanted to buckle—the God Of All Comfort was fully and beautifully present for me—inwardly by the power of the Holy Spirit and outwardly through the body of Christ.
Maybe this Christmas, you are facing a “suddenly.” Maybe you are finding it hard at times to even catch your breath. If so, may I offer you a precious promise that will not only serve to sustain you this holiday season but every day in the years to come? It is simply this: for every “suddenly” you face, there is a God-designed, perfectly- apportioned, Spirit-imparted grace with your name on it—a grace the exact size of the need, the ache, the fear, the loss, the pain, or the diagnosis. That’s the amazing thing about grace—it is the very thing that can minister to our every need. It sustains, it heals, it soothes, and it saves—and it is freely ours through Jesus Christ. Immanuel. “God With Us.”
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you...” (2 Cor. 9:8)
God Is With Us
(Kenna Turner West / Tony Wood)
In the empty In the aching God is with us
In the silence In the breaking God is with us
In the weakness In the waiting God is with us
In the giving In the taking God is with us
Oh, the hope we hold Oh, the peace we know His promise to every soul
In the sorrow In the grieving God is with us
In the wanting
In the pleading God is with us
In the chaos In the questions God is with us
This my story My confession God is with us
(Curb Dayspring Music, LLC / Say Amen Music (BMI). Admin by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp; Curb Wordspring Music/LLC/Tony Wood Songs, SESAC)