Sunday, December 11, 2011

Is There An Empty Chair at Your Table This Year? by Lori Hatcher

At my Christmas table this year, there will be three empty chairs.

In the past two years I have lost a brother-in-law, a sister-in-law, and a sister. All three professed Christ as their Savior, and there is great comfort in that. As Mary said to Jesus after the death of her brother, Lazarus, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection."

But it still hurts.

I can still hear my sister-in-law Kay's classic "Bummer!" ringing in my ears when things don't go my way.

My brother-in-law Luther's traditional dry humor resonates in my memory. Whenever I would ask him how he liked a particular dish, he would say it "tastes like chicken."

And the sharing of leftovers is not quite as satisfying without my sister, Cindy, making the rounds of the buffet table with her red heart plate.

Many of you may be staring at similar empty chairs around your holiday table. You may also have similar quirky memories of times you took for granted with your loved ones, assuming that they'd always be with you.

Yesterday I read the account of the death of Lazarus. His two sisters were heartbroken. "Lord," they both said to him, "if you had been here, this would not have happened." Sometimes we feel that way too, that God must have been somewhere else the day our loved ones died.

This holiday season, if you are missing someone who has died, take comfort from the words of John 11:5, "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." Because I we know Christ loves us just as He loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, we can feel comfort.

While Jesus's love doesn't return our precious family members to us, it sure brings a whole lot of comfort when we miss them. Their deaths weren't random acts of cruelty from the hand of an uncaring god. Their deaths, like Lazarus', were allowed to give us a chance to glorify Him, even in our sadness.

Especially in our sadness.

Then Jesus heard of Lazarus' sickness, He said, ". . . it is for God's glory, so that God's Son may be glorified through it" (John 11:4).

Take comfort this holiday season. God loves you very much. And remember that one Christmas long ago, God loved us so much that He had an empty seat at His house on Christmas day.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Read more about Lori and her new book on the Lead Writers' Page. To subscribe to WOW and receive devotions in your email box each Sunday, enter your email address below:
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1 comment:

  1. Your post brought tears to my eyes. So true that hearts hurt at Christmas. Those quirky memories bring comfort. I loved the analogy to Mary and Martha ...and the Father Himself. Yes, He has experienced the "empty chair."


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