If You Sorrow Deeply this Christmas…

 If You Sorrow Deeply this Christmas…

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

sorrowornamentToday we were bombarded yet again, with tremendous sorrow and shock — this time the evil slaughter of innocent children in Pakistan. Amidst the holiday celebration, there is tremendous sorrow. And pain. And loss.

Perhaps you are one of those who cannot stop crying, even as the radio stations play “Deck the Halls” and sponsor Ugly Christmas Sweater contests? It’s just too, too much, and sometimes you wish it were over…

sorrowcardLast year, during a concert, singer/songwriter Michael Card told my church family that he identifies with those who are depressed during Christmas. In fact, he even said that out of the 400+ songs he has written, his most favorite is “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows.” As I heard him sing it in our 1761 century Meetinghouse that evening, it soon became one of my favorites as well.

“In this most holy place, He’s made a sacred space,

for those who will enter in and trust to cry out to Him.

And you’ll find no curtain there, no reason left for fear.

There’s perfect freedom here, to weep every unwept tear.” (Michael Card)

sorrowjesusNot your typical Christmas carol. But appropriate for all who weep. That child who was born into a dark and evil world – Christ – was born to join us in our pain. “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood…” (John 1.14 MSG) This Christ child was also “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…” (Isaiah 53) He knows what our lives are like. And that’s why He came — to sit with us in our sorrow, to guide us in our bewilderment, and to give us hope to take the next step.

EmmanuelGod with us — is the great good news for all who weep today.

If you are someone who is struggling to lift up your sorrows, perhaps these few suggestions from a counselor can help you adjust your holiday expectations: 

1. Talk about your feelings. It’s okay to be sad, even when others are not. Opening up with safe and supportive family and friends can be a great way to cope. Also talking with your pastor, a counselor or attending a grief support group can be especially helpful.

sorrowgrave2. Make a plan to honor your loved one. There are many ways to do this- anything from watching their favorite Christmas movie, to lighting a candle at the dinner table, to hanging a special ornament on the tree can all help you feel connected to that person. Don’t be afraid to say their name, to reflect on happy holiday memories spent with that person or look at old photos. While those things may often bring tears, they can also bring comfort.

3. Give yourself permission to change your usual traditions. It’s ok to not go out in crowds if that feels overwhelming. It’s ok to skip putting out all the decorations you normally would. It’s ok to cook less, or not at all. During times of grief and loss, it’s most important to take good care of yourself. Over-scheduling and pressure are especially hard to handle, so eliminate everything that is draining, and make time for comforting and resting.

4. Spend time with loved ones. While over-scheduling is not good, isolating can lead to depression. Many grieving individuals find it helpful to create a support team of two to three people who call and visit, and whom you can call anytime you need to talk. Often friends and family don’t know how to help when someone is grieving. There are probably several people in your life who have said “If you need anything, let me know.” Ask them to be a support person. Ask them to call you every few days and tell them you might need to call them just to cry or talk.

5.  Try to spend time in prayer, reading your Bible and worship. Remember that God cares for you. It’s ok to feel angry with God during grief, but try not to allow that feeling to keep you from Him. God experienced the loss of His own son Jesus and can empathize with your pain. The Bible says, “God is close to the broken-hearted…” (Psalm 34:18). It also says that “He heals the broken hearted…” (Psalm 147:3)

Remember that there is no way to remove the pain of grief. There is a path to move through the pain. It is a season that will one day pass.“Weeping may last for a night, but rejoicing will come in the morning.” Psalm 30:5  (from Debi Russell, Pastoral Counselor)

sorrowcandleI cannot imagine the sorrow and loss you are experiencing right now. But I want you to know that I care too. Today I shall offer a prayer that the “Man of Sorrows” will enter your life in a special way this week and grant you His Presence and His Peace. May the message of Christmas bring you Hope for better days to come…

“Dear Man of Sorrows, so acquainted with grief, Help me not to recoil from Your wounds, not to fear touching them or to be touched by them. sorrowdogHelp me to understand that in my suffering I am not only nearest to You, but nearest to becoming like You. It’s a sobering thought and I shudder when I think of it. Help me to understand that many of the sorrows I experience in this life belong to the nature of the world I live in, and will not pass away until this world passes away. Thank You for being in the midst of these sorrows, transforming them into blessings and filling them with meaning. Amen.” (Ken Gire)

under the mercy, Cindy

CLICK HERE to hear Michael Card’s Song “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows” 

©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell


NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

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4 Responses to If You Sorrow Deeply this Christmas…

  1. talithakome says:

    Thank you Cindy. I am missing my grandmother who passed at the beginning of the year. She is with Jesus square dancing. the Lord has called 3 other friends home this year too. It has been a year of sorrow but it also has been a year of great rejoicing. My Abba has told me just what you have written. Thank you for sharing this. It truly helped me and will help many others.

  2. maggierowe says:

    Excellent post as always, Cindy – one to share. For those who are sorrowing rather than celebrating (or trying to do both simultaneously), this is so needed. My dad’s birthday would have been tomorrow, and sometimes it seems unfeeling to celebrate when he is no longer with us. Having lost your father you know those feelings exactly.

  3. Talitha, may the Lord draw you close this Christmas as you misses your grandmother. I am grateful that this week’s post ministered to your heart. A Blessed Christmas season… Cindy

  4. Maggie, we thank the Lord for the life of Truman Wallem and I know that he touched so many lives, but you and your Mama are certainly missing him in a special way on his birthday. You are so right about having to juggle both the quiet, somber moments of Christmas with the celebratory and fun times. Quite a delicate dance, eh? Me too. Let me know when we can chat Sunday pm. Your BFF

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