There I was in multitasking, mom mode: skimming the pages in the holiday edition of our local magazine while eating my lunch and telling my toddler I’d give him a snack in just a minute. I suddenly stumbled upon an article featuring what people loved and dreaded about the holidays. The first comment seemed to pop off the page, as if exposing my heart under a magnifying glass.
The person wrote that they dreaded not having their father with them to celebrate Christmas this year.
I so related. My earliest memories of Christmas are opening presents with just my mom and grandparents. I would sit under the glittery tree, picking out gifts for each of us to open one at a time. As I look back on my childhood, I wonder how it would be to have my father there in that living room on Christmas morning. Would he have sat on the floor with me under the tree, or maybe let me snuggle in his lap to open gifts?
I’ll never know, but one detail is clear. I miss a man I’ve never met every time the holidays roll around each year. It’s an undeniable absence that I must continually process and surrender to Jesus, the Savior of my soul whose birth I celebrate each Christmas.
I think the holidays do unearth the grief that we’ve stuffed in our souls. We’re simply more forced to face the reality of someone’s absence, especially family members like fathers.
It’s easy to stay fixated on this pain of father loss. However, Christmas is a powerful reminder that God offers you and me a glorious alternative that is, exchanging our pain for His everlasting peace found in the Prince of Peace: Jesus Christ, our victorious Savior and coming King.
So how do we tangibly receive God’s everlasting peace in our grief-laden hearts?
It begins in making peace with our pain.
Not self-medicating it.
Not self-helping it.
Not denying it, either.
Making peace with our pain begins in opening our hearts to the Prince of Peace, who’s always knocking on the doors of our soul.
Inviting Jesus into our pain means relinquishing self-sufficiency and choosing surrender, freeing us to receive the healing balm of the Father’s presence.
Furthermore, making peace with our pain means choosing gratitude for who God is, regardless of our current circumstances.
This year I want to learn this sacred discipline of expressing gratitude for my burdens: those downright disappointing, devastating circumstances in my life, one of which is being a fatherless daughter.
If the fatherless journey has taught me anything, it is this: Offering thanks to God for the bitter cup of suffering yields sweet serenity for my soul.
This sweet serenity flows from resting in God’s will, as I Thessalonians 5:18 affirms:
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ.”
Notice this verse doesn’t say “good” circumstances. It says “all.”That means the good, the bad, and the ugly in life.
But this verse leaves no room for my pity party. It’s more like a peace party! Yes, God promises to give us the peaceful assurance of being in His will when we thank him for everything, including fatherlessness.
So this year, I am intentionally choosing to thank God for being a fatherless daughter. Why? Because I know there’s a grander plan greater than this burden. God is weaving a bright, bold, beautiful purpose in this dark pain: that being to illuminate Himself more as my Heavenly Father.
So friend, where do you need to make peace with your pain? What choice will you make when your pain seems amplified under a magnifying glass, like mine felt in reading that article about missing a dad during the holidays?
Let me encourage you to surrender this pain to Jesus. Let me challenge you to thank our Father for whatever bitter cup of suffering has been served at your life’s table.
This gratitude will uncover the gem of joy: a sparkle of sweet serenity in one’s soul that is trusting in the faithfulness of the Heavenly Father.
So friends, let’s pray for peace to trump pity in our hearts this year.
Let’s make peace with our pain by embracing the Father’s joy over us and in us. We can trust Him to transform our pain into a grand, gospel-centered purpose to display His glorious grace..