The baby Jesus lies in the manger in the stable in Bethlehem. Mary finds herself feeding him and even changing his diapers. Cries echo throughout the darkness. Jesus in all of his humanness reminds us that God comes into the world in human form.
There are so many experiences in life that we would much rather not experience. In fact, I think so often we would much rather skip straight over Good Friday to the Resurrection joy of Easter morning. But the truth is that we cannot experience that joy without first experiencing the pain of death that comes all too often in this world.
Death that comes in so many ways. Sometimes the death is still so raw that we forget that resurrection does eventually come. In the midst of the rawness of death, we find ourselves clinging so tightly to what we have lost. Other times we think we are on the other side of grief when a post or photo or something unexpectedly brings the tears back to the surface. And other times we feel like we are drowning in our own grief.
Yet death is a part of the cycle of life. Yes,sometimes that cycle comes way too quickly and unexpectedly. I have sat and cried tears wondering if I would be able to feel happiness and joy again. I have held hands and prayed as others have waited for death to appear. But in the midst of it all, I have seen the ways that joy has emerged. Somehow through the grief, the grief has led way to laughter and joy. “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”–Psalm 30:5
Today, I can honestly sit here with a smile upon my face knowing that resurrection does take place. I have seen and experienced it with my own eyes, ears, and heart. I have watched new life emerge in a community of faith that I left. And I have watched new life spring to life for myself and a new community of faith too. In fact, every day it seems that the seeds are springing forth new life again and again.
I am not saying that death is not painful. Because the reality is that every kind of death is immensely painful. There are days we wonder if we can get out of bed. There are other days we go through the motions. And there are yet other days when we are barely keeping our head above water.
But the truth, my dear friends, is that death does not have the final word. Life does! In the words of Clarence W. Hall, “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it will not stay there.” In other words, God has the power to overcome death and the grave and will help us through all of our moments of extreme grief and death.
I’ll admit that, most days, I would much rather skip over all the hard stuff. But without Good Friday, there cannot be an Easter Sunday. And without the waiting we experience in Advent, we cannot come to the manger knowing that Christ is God in human form.
But knowing that Easter joy does and will come again, I come to the manger, with my heart wide open, as I joyfully proclaim in these words from the Hallelujah chorus, “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”
Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Porch Stories.
I listened to John Piper’s Advent devotional today, and he shared from Hebrews about no longer being captive to the fear of death. This is the great gift of Christmas — to be delivered from lifelong fear of the inevitable.
Blessings to you!
Amen! Blessings to you too!
Thank you for this beautiful devotional. It is so encouraging to know ‘that death does not have the final word’. I returned to my home island the other day… the same one left mangled and leafless from Hurricane Irma, and I was so encouraged to see the new life that had sprouted all over. It filled me with such hope and reminded me of the resilience of life. Blessings to you.
You’re welcome! Blessings to you too.
He was born to die upon Calvary, He died for my sins and rose again so that I can have new life in Him! Thanks for sharing.
Yes! You’re welcome.
Exactly this. Just –all of this! xoxo
YES! Only in Jesus can pain and joy co-exist like that. In your words, I can sense the lack of fear, which is such a beautiful thing. Thanks for sharing this here and linking up at #PorchStories.
Death does not have the last word – Amen!
Indeed it doesn’t!
Love your words of hope and encouragement, friend! Death does not have the final word! Amen!