There is nothing more troubling than getting the call. If you've lived long enough, you've gotten the call at least once. The call reporting that someone has passed away unexpectedly. There are three distinct calls that I can remember from my lifetime thus far, although I've received more. The first one was to inform me that a close friend and classmate had passed in a tragic, single car accident. The second from my mother urging me to come home because my father had passed away. And the most recent, from a panicking best friend seeking answers for what happened to our former classmate, later finding out that he, too, had been the victim of a car accident. All were loved, all gone too soon.
What a season to have to experience such a loss. When we're celebrating the birth that saved humanity, many across the world are mourning. It was only two years ago, on Christmas Eve, that I remember sitting around the hospital bed where doctors had pronounced my maternal grandfather dead. Needless to say, Christmas has never been the same for my family. And though we try to make the best of these times, we can't help but remember the many people who are no longer here with us.
Though we seek to express our condolences, no words can quite provide the comfort that is needed during such a time. I've found that during such times, our most potent response is to earnestly pray for those who are suffering. It, indeed, is the only thing that can provide the measure of comfort, which is Christ Jesus. Though I hate to be gloomy during this time of year, death is a rugged reminder of the need for Jesus' birth. He was born to die to save a world from sin and to give us an opportunity to have eternal life. So we celebrate Christ all the more during this time, because it is through Him only that we are able to live again.
Oh death, where is your sting? Oh grave, where is your victory?