Beautiful faces. Twenty of them. Some probably hadn’t even lost their first tooth yet. Now, they’ve lost their lives.
The country is reeling, parents are hugging their children tighter, and the world is asking “why?” All just before Christmas.
The rain this week seemed fitting.
It was hard enough just hearing about it, but then they posted their dear, sweet faces. And this one looked like the child down the street. And that one had eyes like my child’s friend. And the other could have been the twin of a first grader I once knew. And each one WAS someone’s child, someone’s sibling, someone’s grandchild… Not just pictures. But real flesh and blood.
And I hug my children tighter. Knowing someone else’s arms are empty.
It’s not a pain we who haven’t experienced it could even imagine. We try, but I can only imagine the real pain would be exponentially higher. And so we are thankful that it wasn’t our child—and then we feel guilty for the thought. Truly, there are no words at a time like this. I pray that those near these precious families would have large, welcoming, tear-absorbent shoulders.
But one thought hit as I read the reports. The community was taking down its decorations—they didn’t feel right about celebrating Christmas.
And my heart went out to them all the more.
Please, don’t give up on Christmas!
I’m not talking about the gifts and the food and the Christmas trees. I’m talking about the real part! The fact that a Baby was born that night…one who came for the sole purpose of saving the world from this very kind of darkness. His light, a star, was so bright, it attracted wise men all the way from the east. The glory of His light was so strong, it blinded seasoned shepherds, drawing them to His side. All for a little Baby who would one day defeat this pain of death.
No, everything wasn’t beautiful at that time either. All boys, two and under, were killed in that city—the evil plan of a jealous man trying to wipe out this one baby. “There was… lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted.” (Matthew 2:18)
No one felt like celebrating!
So how can we?
Because that Child lived. And grew. “And became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” (Luke 2:40)
“The thief comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” But that Baby “came that we might have life, and that we might have life more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
It’s not a sermon. It’s not a pat answer.
And it’s not easy! The darkness can be very thick. But we can’t let that thief steal our hope!
So, maybe no parties. No going from house to house with cookies and gifts. No large displays of snowmen with loud blinking reindeer.
But maybe one candle in the window. Shining out through the darkness. Reminding us that this is the very reason He came: “To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79)
Truly, there are no words of comfort at a time like this; but for those hurting families, I pray that this Christmas, their empty arms would be filled with this Baby. And in those moments when that does not seem enough because the darkness is just too close, they would then find that little Baby has come to hold them. (John 10:28)