***Read to the end for a give-away!***

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 CSB).

Confession: Sometimes I live with my eyes closed. 

Like a little girl with the If I can’t see it then it doesn’t exist mentality, I bury my head in the sand and try to wait for the sadness to pass.

And in doing so, I miss something very special. Because, truth is, sad things happen whether I face them or not. It’s just a hard reality of life in this yet broken world where things aren’t as God intended, not how they’ll one day be.

Take, for example, my grand-daughter Lila who spent several days just before Christmas hooked to an IV, attached much of the time to supplemental oxygen due to her asthma and a nasty RSV diagnosis. Her mother missed days of work, not to mention her two other children who stayed with family members while she tended to her sick middle child.

And what about my sister-in-law whose husband battled ravenous cancer for more than a decade, only to pass days before Christmas? She’s left to navigate the new year without the one she loves, her memory of Christmas 2023 forever changed to one flavored with the bittersweet of loss–her beloved no longer suffering but also no longer present.

And then there’s our dear Cindy, both friend and birth mother to our oldest son. She not only lost her paternal grandfather right before Christmas, but she lost her maternal grandmother too. These losses pierced her heart and the hearts of her parents and others deeply, leaving indelible scars. Indeed, the wounds will heal, the sweetness of the memories of these loved ones eventually outweighing the bitter sting their family’s experiencing now, but it will take time. And it won’t be easy.

All this and more. Is my heart the only one that’s heavy? Does anyone else try to tuck tail and run from reality, fleeing from sadness and sickness and loss?


There’s something about sitting in the ash heap, letting grief guide us toward the One who never leaves us in our suffering, who promises to comfort us when we’re overcome with sorrow.

I want to offer a personal story of this very thing, how God met me in my grief several days before Christmas.

Like many, I’d come down with a yucky virus that zapped me of my energy, but unlike so many other times I’ve been struck by minor sickness, this bug really put the “bah-hum” to my usual Christmas joy, leaving me feeling overwhelmed and sad for days. All I wanted to do was sleep.

One night, everyone else had gone to bed, and I found myself alone in the dark. I turned on the cozy lamp in my dining room and sat in my rocker to read. I’d been working my way through a Christmas devotional written by Andy Clapp and friend Michelle Medlock Adams. As I turned to the day’s reading in The Christmas Devotional–Hope and Humor for the Holidays (End Game Press, 2023), Michelle’s title caught my attention–

The Grief That Stole Christmas.

In this chapter, its author shares about the Christmas after her mother passed away, how it was filled with sadness and how her family packed up and went to the beach–foregoing all their normal traditions to grieve while walking among countless grains of sand.

As I read, I found myself crying, thinking about my own aging parents, projecting what future Christmases will hold, knowing neither Momma nor Daddy will be with us forever, even though they’re currently fine.

Suddenly, several paragraphs in, my phone alerted me to an incoming text message. I picked it up and read words written by my niece Chelsea whose father Mark, our brother-in-law who suffered with cancer, was hospitalized after battling pneumonia.

She wrote–

I just got home. They’re doing hospice comfort care because he’s struggling… his breaths are labored. They stopped antibiotics and are giving him pain meds to keep him comfy. He’s able to squeeze hands. One more thing, Dad told Mom yesterday he wanted to be baptized so a chaplain came in today and baptized them both, something that made him very happy.

The timeliness of her text with my reading Michelle’s words about grief were nothing less than miraculous, and I was able to later share with both her and her mom, my dear sister-in-law Angie, a bit about this devotion–a reminder that God is always with us, even in–especially in–our grief. And what an example, as Mark and Angie, despite deep sorrow, experienced the joy of the Lord in their public demonstration of faith, through baptism, just prior to his passing.

Furthermore, I was able to write to my friend Michelle and encourage her too–sharing this experience with her and reminding her that, as a writer, she can trust God’s guiding hand as He calls her to be His messenger. As Christian writers, we don’t always know who our words will touch, nor the circumstances surrounding our readers, but we can know that, when they’re inspired by the Holy Spirit, they’re for a very special purpose, for a specific time.

Grief–a thief? It can be, but even more, when we walk with Jesus, we don’t suffer loss so much as we experience gain–yes, the treasure of God’s comfort in the midst of our sorrow.

And His comfort is the sweetest Gift we can ever be given!

Not sure where to find comfort? Here are some of God’s good and faithful promises concerning such, straight from His Word:

  • “Weeping may stay overnight, but there is joy in the morning… You turned my lament into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, so that I can sing to you and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever” (Ps. 30:5, 11-12).
  • “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed spirit” (Ps. 34:18).
  • “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3).
  • “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
  • “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22).
  • “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

So, are you grieving? Is your heart heavy with sorrow?

I encourage you–don’t flee from your sadness or from the grief of others with whom you journey. Rather, sit in the ash heap of sorrow and allow the God of all comfort to bend low and heal your heart. Share in the suffering with your hurting friends and family members. You don’t have to say anything; after all, sometimes our silent presence is the best gift you can offer. Just be there.

Oh, and don’t forget to pray.

Rather than close your eyes to sadness and suffering, close them in prayer–lifting up to the Lord each of those you know who carries a heavy burden, baptizing them with your petitions.

Prayer is the way we can lighten their load, as we ask to share in their sorrow. It’s miraculous that we can be the comfort God promises simply by interceding for those who mourn, even if we can’t physically be with them.

Through both our presence and our prayers whether together or apart, we can keep grief from being a thief–at Christmas and all throughout the year.

As Michelle Medlock Adams wrote, “… you’re not alone in this grief journey. Your heavenly Father promises that He will never leave you or forsake you. And He also promises to comfort you. 2 Corinthians 1:3 (TPT) says, ‘All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he is the Father of tender mercies and the God of endless comfort‘.”

Endless comfort? Oh yes!

Jesus, You came to be our Savior–God with us, Emmanuel! You put on the humble sackcloth of flesh to live in this fallen world, experiencing all the sorrow of this sinful place while remaining sinless Yourself. And why? To offer us comfort in our sadness, joy instead of despair, giving us the oil of gladness in place of mourning that we might know the peace of Your salvation. May our voices be used to encourage as we point others to You through our testimonies–sharing those seasons of grief when we were comforted by Your presence. Amen.

***To listen to a beautiful song about Jesus meeting us in our grief, click HERE!***

***Please share in the comments your experience with grief, how you’ve discovered the comfort of the Lord, even in deep sorrow. I’ll be drawing a name on January 3rd from those who participate and giving away one copy of Andy Clapp’s and Michelle Medlock Adams’ book The Christmas Devotional–Hope and Humor for the Holidays, available at Amazon or at End Game Press.