It’s been 20 years since I received the news.
It was Christmas time and I was celebrating with my soon to be in-laws. The snow was falling as it only does in the midwest, and my soon to be husband was out buying a shovel with my soon to be father-in-law.
The smell of homemade holiday cooking wafted through the air and we were excited to be snowed in for a couple days.
Until the call.
I wrapped myself into a ball, the blue recliner a cocoon around me. All the sparkly holiday cheer shattered like a broken ornament, pieces hiding for the next bare foot to find.
Leukemia. Tests. Diagnosis.
We crawled into the car in the middle of a snowstorm and headed toward the pain. After a flat tire and all the frustration that seems to multiply when there’s bad news, we finally made it home.
And while we pulled smiles out from the deepest parts of our joy storage, the ripped wrapping paper and typical gifts just seemed…empty. Or too full of all the possibilities of it being one of the “lasts”.
Sometimes, for just a quick second, normal would sneak in and we would forget. Those small moments were a welcome reprieve from the “what if” and “why” and “how will we” questions that swirled around us. The storm would calm, but as the eye moved away, the winds would howl once again.
That kind of news – death toll news – is excruciating any time of year. But at the holidays when it seems like everyone else is mistletoe-ing and caroling and gifting and hanging stockings, well, it can seem pretty isolating.
I don’t know how you feel this holiday season. I have no idea what your hurts are. I don’t know if you’re sick, someone else is sick, you’ve lost your mom, dad, friend, sister, or brother.
Maybe you’ve lost a child or someone is deployed or you just feel like no one cares anymore.
Maybe you’re caught up in addiction or are feeling sick and tired of being sick and tired. You feel alone, and you’d give everything for your normal to look like what everyone else’s “seems” to look like.
There is hope for you this holiday. And it’s not in the people around you, the things you wrap, or the house you live in. It’s not the car your drive or the money in the bank. Your hope can’t be found in anything you could purchase, prize, or pet on this earth.
And although those things bring fullness to life, they don’t fulfill us.
Because you see, when I was curled up in that recliner, no one could have helped me get rid of the pain. No person, pet, or property could have erased my reality. But I found comfort in my Jesus. Historically, He has never left me. Even to this day.
When I reminisce about that day 20 years ago, I can still feel the precious presence of Jesus, reminding me that although my earthly life is short, my eternal life is long. And that’s the life I’m preparing for while I’m here. So, although I had to press into the pain that meant I might not have my earthly father for too much longer, I had the promise of forever with my father in the future.
Hope doesn’t always make the pain disappear, but it promises that pain won’t last forever. What I do with that pain, how I use it, how I respond to it, how I learn from it, will help me offer hope to others who have similar pain.
Suffering doesn’t have preferences. It spreads itself out over humanity, randomly landing on the unsuspecting. It’s part of the life we live here, where the thief tries to steal, kill, and destroy us. But we never have to do it alone, even when we feel the most lonely. Because no person, place, or thing can fill the void that Jesus needs to fill.
So, when I feel the hurt rise up, I go to a quiet place away from all the loud. I open my bible, usually to the book of John. And I drink in His goodness, His promises of life, His comfort.
It’s easy to expect my husband, my friends, or my family to fill the emptiness I experienced after my loss.
But I can’t.
Because they won’t ever be able to be what I need them to be. There is only one Person who know every part of me. There is only one Person who sees my deepest pain and greatest need. And He is the only one – both here and in heaven – who will ever be. I can’t expect them to save me.
That was – as is – His job.
So, when the hurt rises up, go to a quiet place away from all the loud. Open your bible, or if you don’t have one, it’s online – there are even apps. Go to the book of John. Then, drink in the goodness, the promises of life, the comfort.
Only He can hurt like you because only He really knows you.
I pray this holiday that you will find Him. He wants to find you.
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Want to know more about the author? Carrie Wisehart is a high school English teacher, blogger, author, and speaker who is CRAZY about life. Check out her YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram!