Because of Jesus, we are not like those who grieve without hope this holiday season.

Christmas has always been the most special day of the year for my family.

We enjoy New Year’s Day, Easter, and Thanksgiving and other holidays that come our way as the calendar pages turn. But there has always been something special about Christmas—with its well-established celebrations, personalized traditions, and faith-filled observations. And yet we recently learned a difficult lesson—that the most special days can also be the most painful ones, and that sorrows are often amplified in festive times.

It was just two short years ago that my son Nick was unexpectedly taken from us. He was a college student who was progressing well in his studies, a fiancé looking forward to his upcoming wedding, a faithful son, and a loving brother. But then, in an instant, he was taken—and our world was shattered.

Not a day goes by when he has not been on our hearts and in our minds. Not a day goes by when we do not miss him dearly and grieve him sorely. Not a day goes by when we do not long to hear his voice and see his smile.

And as this most special of days draws near, we feel that longing grow and that ache deepen, for we know that at Christmas we will sense his absence even more. It will be impossible to ignore or overlook—for there will be fewer gifts under the tree than there once were, fewer chairs around the table, one less stocking above the hearth. We know that on this day, of all days, he will be most deeply missed.

This Christmas falls on a Sunday and we will, of course, gather with the rest of our church to mark the day with worship—with songs and prayers and scriptures and preaching. How could we better mark Christmas than like this? My older daughter and her husband will be in town …

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