The rain was light enough to not show up in the forecast, yet it fell heavy on our cotton and flannel as we worked. Tiny droplets, barely even falling, adding up to a great weight. If work wasn’t so scarce this time of year, I would have called it. I would have taken the boys home, offered a hot cup of coffee to wash down the grey, lifeless morning. But we needed the money, so we kept on. I knew what I had to do, and the rain wasn’t enough reason to stop. When I got home, I had to make some calls to research and set up an appointment to have my dog, Clancy, finally brought to rest. He can’t make it through another winter. More tiny droplets, adding up.

I have thought practically about this, but once I got on the phone with someone to ask about the procedure, I choked on my heart a little. “Just ask the questions, and hang up,” I forced myself. Clancy is a dearer friend than I, apparently, want to admit. All this is going on as my wife is running gift ideas by me for extended family members, and reminding me that we have to be at the nursing home in half an hour for a Christmas gathering. We will gather and eat and sing and exchange a few gifts as we surround the patron of the family, who will likely be asleep in his warn recliner. He is a man who still has great respect from those of us who knew him when he could do things like stand up or hold his eyes open. I asked him for my wife’s hand in marriage. More droplets.

It seemed so counter culture to be dealing with such themes a few days before the holiday known for merriment “and gay, happy meetings when friends come to call.” Seemed almost unfair. I asked God to help me hold it together, and not come across as a grump at the party after a long morning in the rain and a long afternoon on the phone. He answered my prayer; He turned my thoughts to Jesus. Jesus, the one who left majesty that I cannot fathom, to dwell with us in the land where good things, great dogs, and wondrous men fade. So that, when all is said and done, when twinkle lights are taken down, there is a Light that the darkness cannot overcome. When Clancy and Grandfather cannot stand up on their own, there is a Father with an ancient and mighty right hand. When the grey wears on and the rain has weight, there is a Strong Tower in whom we can take refuge.

So this is Christmas. “He left his father’s throne above, so free so infinite his grace, emptied himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race.” Amazing love. Jesus knew what He had to do, and the rain was not enough reason to stop. Christmas is not a time to pretend against pain. It is not a holiday to shove regret and loss under a red and green rug. It is a time that we celebrate the God who became a man, and felt the same. God knows not only that we hurt, but how it feels. That, my friends, is joy. As the droplets add up, nothing can take from you the everlasting refuge of Christ, our Rescuer. So, I will shed my tear for those I’ve lost, and raise a cup of cheer to the hope of eternity with them. Thank you, Jesus, that joy is not fake, or fickle, and cannot be taken down with the decorations.

Merry Christmas.