“Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Let your heart be light…” These were the words trickling from overhead speakers in another one of those rooms. You know the rooms, the ones with the well-intentioned pamphlets that you never imagine needing. Those pamphlets that are handed to you in place of words of comfort spoken to you by a complete stranger. Those pamphlets are there for people who receive bad news, since pamphlets are never for people that receive good news.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, the room demanded. How? How could you say that to me? Don’t you know that I am next to my wife as we grieve our third miscarriage? Don’t you know that your shallow words set to a whimsical melody don’t bring back a heart that was once beating? Don’t you know that this room is a living hell? But the room insisted. It was hell-bent on convincing us to be “merry.” Don’t mind the sniffles and intermittent sobs of grief in that room set up exclusively for pain. There were only two of us in that room, but the whole world knows that sort of grief. Ours were only a few teardrops in the saline sea created by all of humanity’s streaming eyes. But Have yourself a merry little Christmas, and let your heart be light.
Christmas is supposed to be merry, right? That’s what I was told, that’s what everyone says. It MUST be merry, or something is wrong. But that’s the problem. Something is wrong. Very wrong. While the world is flickering with twinkling lights. While celebrities tell the world to be merry and bright, people like us are losing their babies before they even hold them in their arms. Some parents lose their children, not to miscarriage, but to gun violence. Some people gather around drums filled with fire, striving to stay warm. Some children will be celebrating two Christmases, with divided parents striving to buy their love and affection. Some people are going through their first Christmas with an empty spot at the table. Some are spending Christmas in a cell, in prisons, and in migrant detention centers. All around us, there are people with tears streaming down their faces joining ours in an ocean of grief. But Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
This year, for us and so many others Christmas will not be merry. This year, Christmas will have a dark cloud hanging over it. It will have questions about why God would allow our baby to die in the womb. We will wonder what a life we could have had if our baby was still with us. It will have tears of inexplainable grief pouring from our eyes at odd moments. No, this Christmas will not be merry, but instead, it will be full of sorrow.
I was having a hard time with the reality that this year Christmas wouldn’t be the light-hearted, merry, and joyful occasion it has always been. Instead, this year will be one of mourning and grieving the death of our child, who was born into eternity. Being filled with anger and grief seems so wrong around Christmas. Or at least that’s what I thought until I heard a sermon by Dr. David Schmitt. He had a word fitly spoken. He talked about sorrowful joy. About the reality of life and all of its struggle, all of its complexities, messes, pains, and griefs. And about how all of that meets the reality of Christ. How who Jesus is, what He does, and what He promises to do crashes into our world, like one wave into another. And with that collision in Christ, sorrow mingles with joy. The mingling is often a confusing mess, but it is there: joy in sorrow.
So I hate to break it to you, Mr. Crosby, Mr. Buble, or whoever it is being pumped through the speakers in this room of grief filled with pamphlets for the broken, I will not have a merry little Christmas this year. I cannot find my heart feeling light. There will not be a holly jolly attitude from me, at least not a real one. Instead, this year I will come to the manger with grief-filled eyes as streams of tears roll down my face. I will come and behold the Christ child with my wife and so many others who come with sorrow. There we will gather around this infant named Jesus, and we will cry, we will weep, and we will be filled with sorrow. Yet, we will look upon the Christ who comes into the midst of our saline sea, who comes in the midst of our grief, and who comes in the midst of our weeping and joins us. Joy mingling with sorrow.
He crashes into our sorrows, mingles it with himself, and so shares his joy with us. Our joy is the sort that looks forward to what He will bring: light that will once for all banish the darkness; a hand that will wipe away every tear from our eyes and will bring about the end of death and sorrow and crying and pain forevermore. I hope you can have a merry little Christmas. But if you’re like me this year and you cannot, then I pray your sorrow may be full of joy. For these things will pass away. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.