It's Okay To Cry At Christmas
Many years ago, just two days before Christmas, a young woman lay in her bed weeping uncontrollably. This last incident which devastated her so might seem so trivial it was hardly worth a single tear; but wait before you make rash judgment on her, and listen to her story. You may find yourself crying with her.
In many ways her life had been one tragedy after another, with only a relatively few happy days to remember. While still a very little girl just starting second grade, her mother died suddenly at the age of 29. For her grief stricken father this was the second wife he had lost to early death. Because his work carried him far from home, his daughter went to live with her favorite aunt. But that was not a very happy time, for her uncle by marriage was a scoundrel and stole the little girl's meager heritage from her dead mother. Within two more years this aunt, her foster mother, died too. Then her Father became ill, and after a lingering illness, he died. This made three parents she had lost in six years. Again she went to live with another Aunt who was good to her, and whose husband also was as a second father.
However, the sorrow of death of her dear parents still haunted her. She felt as if she really didn't belong to anyone. She finished high school and college before she reached the age of twenty and then went to work supporting herself. She still longed for a family of her own, which she thought she would never have. Life went on for several more years until one summer she went to visit the Aunt who had taken her in after her parents and foster mother had died. There was a handsome young man in that town just back from the war in Europe who caught her eye, and whose eyes bugged wide open when he saw her.
Within a few months they were married.
At long last it seemed that life was going to be much better, and it was. Soon they were expecting their first child and she could hardly wait for the coming birth. Tragedy struck again, and the little boy ~ perfectly formed and beautiful ~ died in the trauma of birth. She had never known such grief as this. But before too long she was pregnant again, and this time a sweet little girl was born alive and healthy, to be followed in the next few years by three more children. Life was good again. Her husband's business was growing and prospering. They built a new home. He was elected to the city council, and all was well.
Then dark clouds once more closed in on her life. The Great Depression which devastated this country in the 1930's wiped out their business almost overnight. Soon the new house had to go and on top of that, just after moving into a dingy little two room apartment with four children, she discovered she was pregnant once more.
It got worse. As the depression deepened, and no work could be found by her husband, they were forced to sell many of their possessions to buy food and pay rent.
Shortly after the fifth and last baby was born, her husband found work; a thousand miles away from home! There was no choice; he had to go or the family would starve. He was gone almost two years. From his meager salary, he was able to send home a little money and even baskets of food from time to time. In that dismal time, a few days before Christmas, he sent her the usual monthly check for the bare necessities of life. From that pittance she managed to save back seven dollar bills to provide a meager Christmas for her children. Then once more, like the straw that broke the camel's back, tragedy struck. She was only out of the room for a few moments, but while she was gone the baby boy, now a little over two years old, found the pretty pieces of paper lying on the table. He managed to drag them down, and merrily tossed them into the fire. When she came back into the room she saw the last of her Christmas dinner and her hopes going up in smoke.
It was too much. This was the low point of a very sad life. It couldn't get any worse. All night she wept and prayed and longed for her husband, but sleep would not come. Finally, at day break, she arose wearily from her bed to face the day before Christmas with little hope, and no joy at all. It would take a miracle even to have a meal on Christmas day. Still she prayed. When the mail man came that last day before Christmas she found a letter from her best friend from college days whom she had not seen for years. She opened the letter, and the miracle happened. Inside the note was a crisp new ten dollar bill, and a wish for a Merry Christmas. Later that day a box of toys for the children came from the same dear friend.
There were many long hard years ahead, but in spite of everything, Christmas was very special that year. Before the next one rolled around, her husband found work in the town where they lived, and life slowly improved in every way. She had many years to enjoy life and the family God had given her.
You see, the young woman was my dear mother, and the baby boy who tried to ruin her Christmas was me.
Yes, my mother cried all night just before Christmas Eve, as she had many times before and after but that was okay. She had plenty of reason for her tears. I am confident she will never cry again, for she is with the Lord, who promised He would wipe away every tear from her eyes, and He has done just that.
Many of you who read this during this Christmas season have plenty of reasons for tears too. God has never told us not to cry, just that one day He will wipe away all our tears. What tears were shed in Bethlehem that terrible day when Herod's butchers killed all the little baby boys from two years old and under, a tragedy difficult to even imagine. Listen to that lament in Matthew's Gospel as he quoted from Jeremiah the Prophet. "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more."
But the path our Savior would walk in His short life was tear-strewn too. Despised and forsaken, betrayed and abused, tortured and finally killed, Jesus wept. He wept when His best friend died. He wept when He saw the people of Jerusalem reject Him and seal their own fate. He wept in the bitter garden of Gethsemane. He wept when His Beloved Father forsook Him on the cross.
All the sorrows, disappointments and failures which wring tears from your broken heart, He understands, for He endured them all and far more.
I know for some of you this Christmas is especially difficult. It may be the first one you have faced since that dear one died, or your marriage was torn apart, or your life just seemed to cave in. You feel destitute, lonely, and forsaken. Like my poor mother so many years ago you have endured what seems to be the straw that broke the camel's back, and your heart. I can not tell you that things in this world will get better for you; they may or may not. I can't tell you the worst is over, or even that there will be a ten dollar bill and a box of toys in the next days' mail. But what I can and do tell you is that our God has told us that when all the final effects of Christmas have taken place there will never again be a reason to cry, except for sheer, unending joy. For "There will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain, nor curse, for all these former things will pass away. And His servants will serve Him, and they shall see His face, and there shall be no night there, for the Lord God gives them light, and they shall reign forever and ever."
Yes, it's okay to cry at Christmas if your heart is sad. Tears are God's gift for now. But He has better things in store for you in heaven where you'll never weep again or have any reason for tears. No doubt many of you will be participating in a Christmas Eve communion service. The supper displayed before you will remind you of that night long ago when Jesus was eating the Passover with His disciples. The Word tells us He was deeply grieved and troubled at heart, saying, "One of you will betray me, and all of you will forsake me." A little later when alone in the garden, He fell on His face and wept sorely with a breaking heart. But though weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning; and so it did on that morning we call Easter, and so it shall on that morning we will call Glory.
If you have tears to shed over the sorrows of your broken heart and shattered dreams, then let them flow freely with no shame. But never forget that God will wipe away all tears from your eyes and heart.
Years after I had burned up the family Christmas, my mother told me that she had taken me to bed with her, and both of us cried most of the night. But before she got up she had hugged and kissed away my tears. I think that is exactly what God plans to do with you and me when the time comes, for He said, "Even as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you, and you will be comforted."
So if you can't dry your tears tonight, it's okay. God will.
That's what Christmas, and the Christmas Eve communion are all about. It's okay if your tears mingle with His when you drink the cup, for after His tears and yours, joy comes because of Christmas. Believe this. Go ahead and shed your tears on Christmas. Then wait in faith for Him to dry your tears; and He will wipe away all tears from your eyes forever and ever. That will be the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams, and that glorious Christmas will last forever and ever.
May the light of Christmas,
the hope of the resurrection,
the assurance of the Saviour's glorious return,
and His peace,
surround your hearts and homes
with comfort this Christmas.