As I write this, I am scanning old 35 mm slides from my grandfather’s old camera into my computer. I’m finding pictures of him and my grandmother as young parents, my mother and her siblings as children, and many pictures of people that I do not know. But the one thought running through my head – I wish that I had done this sooner. Because my grandfather won’t ever get to see these pictures. He won’t get to see the faces of his kids as they see these pictures, or swap stories and memories. I remember at our family Christmas gathering a few years ago, when Grandpa was really sick from the cancer, thinking, “This is going to be the last Christmas I get to spend with him.” It was, in fact, the last time I saw him.
My heart breaks for my friends and family, and for those I do not know who are experiencing sorrow – anew or remembered today.
There’s a hymn that comes to mind when I think about these things – the hard things of life, the loss, the sorrow, the heartbreak, the sickness, the disease, the unexpected and the unexplained. It was penned by Horatio Spafford.
Take a moment and read the verses penned by this man who experienced so much sorrow and loss at once:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Through all of the loss, in the midst of the loss, Horatio penned the words, “Whatever my lot, though has taught me to say, It is well with my soul.” Through the loss of his four daughters on the ship and the loss of his son to scarlet fever at four years old, he was able to say, “It is well with my soul.” He was able to say this because of Christ.
Through all the sorrow and heartbreak and loss, still this one thing remains: Christ came to this earth as a baby, the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
He was born to die.
Born to be an offering for us.
Born to give us a way to the Father.
Born to give us life.
No matter what you are facing today, no matter what sorrow has overwhelmed you this year, this truth will never change – that you have been redeemed, chosen by the God of the Universe. That He sent His one and only Son as a baby to die for your sins. That’s worth celebrating, in the midst of sorrow. That’s worth giving thanks for, in the midst of pain. That’s worth remembering, in the midst of everything unknown.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy to smile and celebrate when your heart is breaking. But it is well with your soul because of this baby that came to die.