My Dad is an amazing man. Not only is he the greatest preacher in the world (sorry, David Platt and John Thweatt!), he is also a terrific author. Today my Christmas gift to you is this guest post from Dad. I hope you enjoy it.
The Comfort of Christmas
Very early on Christmas day, many years ago, I received a telephone call. There was really nothing unusual about getting a call so early in the morning, especially on Christmas day. I had many friends and family members who called to wish me a merry and blessed Christmas. This call was different from the rest. When I answered that call, as was my custom on Christmas day, I said, "Merry Christmas, God bless you." The call came from a nephew named Danny. "Uncle Gordon", he began, "Daddy is celebrating Christmas with Jesus in heaven today." To say the least, that was not what I expected from my first Christmas call that year. Danny went on to explain that his dad, my brother-in-law, had suffered a massive heart attack, late the night before, and died right then and there, with his family around him assuring him of their great love for him, and telling him goodbye "Til we meet in heaven."
When my sister came on the phone she was obviously sad and upset, but amazingly calm and obviously at peace (she is truly at peace now for she too is with the Lord in heaven). After she heard me in my clumsy way telling her my feeling of grief and loss, and assuring her of my sympathy, love and prayers, she simply said, "What better place than heaven, with the Lord, for Dan to celebrate Christmas". She said her first reaction when she realized Dan was dying was, "Please Lord, not on Christmas Eve!". Her next thought was, "but isn't this truly what Christmas is all about; that because of Christmas, God has defeated death by sending His Son into the world?". So she quieted her own heart and the hearts of her children gathered around her and they prayed together.
The first words in Isaiah 40 are these; "Comfort, yes comfort my people, says your God. Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned". It seems to me that this is really an explanation of what Christmas means. It is a message of comfort, for it tells that our sins have been forgiven, and we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. But Christmas points us to another event, or should I say, Advent. The message of comfort which Christmas brings is not complete without the good news our Lord is coming again, and that He has opened heaven to His people. Yes, the sorrows of this life are real and many. We are reminded at Christmas of the loss of loved ones whether recently or in days gone by, and our grief is renewed and the heart wounds are reopened, and the pain returns.
But God has a message of comfort, peace and hope. We sorrow not as others who have no hope. We anticipate, yes, we long for that belssed day when we shall meet our loved ones again, and will never again be seperated from them. Until that day, hear God saying in His word, "Comfort, yes comfort my people...For those who wait upon the Lordshall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint".
"The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace."
This Christmas and forever.
This Christmas my cousin Danny is reunited with both his parents celebrating Jesus. Our Meaghan is there with them. In our grief, we are comforted.
May God's peace, comfort, hope and joy overwhelm your hearts and homes.