By Linda Wood Rondeau
Every Christmas Helen tries to hide at home and wish the season away or the painful past still pierces the heart each time the mistletoe is hung. Her friends make Herculean efforts to draw her out of this seasonal agoraphobia. She acquiesces out of loyalty, but secretly aches for the occasion to end.
Helen’s fiancé was killed during the Christmas holiday just days before their wedding. Christmas, to her, only serves to remind her of the happiness so cruelly yanked away. Though Helen gives much to her community and is one who would never be characterized as embittered. Yet every year at Christmas, the unwanted memories are revisited.
There are many like Helen, shunning the season, fearful they will be inflicted with recollection. Though we try to be compassionate, few truly understand the depth of sorrow the season emotes for those who grieve.
Yet, our Savior was the first to be acquainted with grief. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3a). Because Christ suffered, we too are healed. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
I believe God knew that first Christmas what the future held for his own son. Angels trumpeted the long awaited arrival of the Messiah, and shepherds knelt before a holy infant as a virgin mother cradled her first-born. While the world rejoiced, perhaps the Father mourned. For the birth of his only Son would culminate in sacrifice.
When the Father viewed the rustic cradle, did He see the Cross? When Mary wrapped Jesus in the swaddling clothes, did God see the crown of thorns? When shepherds worshipped, did He see His one and only Son ridiculed, scorned, stripped of dignity, beaten and scourged? When Mary twirled the babe’s fingers within her own, did the Father see the nails that would pierce them?
That first Christmas night, only the Father knew the events that someday would unfold. The world celebrated the promise of salvation not knowing the price that would yet be paid, yet planned from the beginning of time. Only God knew of Heaven’s loss. And I wonder if His grief is renewed each yuletide as men continue to scorn the gift He gave.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel The Other Side of Darkness, LINDA WOOD RONDEAU, writes blended contemporary fiction that speaks to the heart and offers hope to those with damaged lives. After a long career in human services, Linda now resides in Jacksonville, Florida. Her most recent release, A Christmas Prayer, (aka A Father’s Prayer) was a finalist for both the 2014 Selah and Carol Awards.
Other books include: , It Really IS a Wonderful Life, Joy Comes to Dinsmore Street, Days of Vines and Roses and her non-fiction book, I Prayed for Patience God Gave Me Children, also part of a compilation (Uplifting Devotionals).A sequel Joy Comes to Dinsmore Street, (Snow on Eagle Mountain) is expected to be released soon.