To lose a SON
What is Christmas about? There are lots of explanations; some merely commercial, others profoundly religious. But for most people it doesn’t really matter. Christmas comes every year and the best thing to do is to enjoy it.
There are the downsides, with the cost of everything and all the commercial exploitation. But there are the good things like spending time with the wife and kids, and even having the family round.
The food is generally good and it’s a great time for enjoying friendship with people you work with or have known for a long time. In the end all the explanations can be so boring and tedious.
That is just what Harry thought. The only problem was that he could not really enjoy it. Every year he tried, but he always remembered the little boy who had so lit up his life and then died when he was far too young.
Harry saw other men having a wonderful time with their sons as Christmas approached, and all the hurt and bitterness welled up in his mind. He tried to enjoy it for the sake of his wife and the girls, but the ache was so strong and it didn’t get better as the years progressed.
It was the religious side that irritated him most. He had gone to Sunday school when a boy and his mother had been quite devout, reading the Bible with him and his brothers every day. Dad had been totally disinterested, and so, although Mum went to church every Sunday morning, Harry and his brothers never did.
One of his brothers had later joined mother by becoming religious and talking about becoming a Christian. He was the last of the three brothers Harry thought would go religious, but then life does funny things. So he dismissed it all.
Now the situation was, if Dave his Christian brother ever said anything, Harry had one answer: ‘If there is a God, why did my little boy die so young?’ (He never used the boy’s name, because it was too painful.)
He heard all sorts of feeble answers, but no one could get through Harry’s hurt and bitterness. Harry’s Mum and Dave said they prayed for him every day, but that didn’t mean much now his son had died. Resentment against God ruled, and Harry was happy with that.
It was December and Christmas was coming. In the office, people started talking about Christmas, so Harry began his usual avoidance tactics. Ignore the chat about Christmas as much as possible was his policy. Don’t be too negative because it upsets people; just keep a low profile for a few weeks.
That was his approach and it usually worked alright. However, this year there was this new guy who had recently joined the firm. He was quite bright and everyone thought he would not be around too long. Purchasing was a dead area for the ambitious.
Jack was different. He was thoughtful towards others, and tried to help a couple of guys whose sons were into drugs. He also showed loads of patience with Rolly who did all the odd jobs, made the tea, and drove everyone mad because he was the classic bore.
Lots of what Jack said made sense but he always had a religious angle which Harry rejected out of hand.
One day about a week before Christmas, the conversation at lunch got onto the meaning of Christmas and someone asked Jack what his take was.
Jack had said some things about sin that Harry had heard from his mother so often and spoke about Jesus coming to die. It was all old hat.
Then he said something very strange, ‘Jesus went to the cross because of us. God so loved us that he sent his Son to bear our pains and sorrows. God knows what it is like to lose a Son, as he did it for us’.
Harry didn’t hear anymore. Those words filled his head: ‘God knows what it is like to lose a Son’.
How could that be true? No one could love others that much to give up their own son. He had loved his son so much that nothing or no one would have come before him.
What sort of love did God have? If God loved his Son supremely, as Jack said, how could he let him die? Did God really love people that much? Thoughts and arguments raged in his mind. He decided to go home early that day.
There is meaning to Christmas. It is expressed in the most well-known verse in the Bible – John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’.
Christmas tells us that God knows what it is like to lose a Son, because out of love for you and me he gave his Son, to be born in order to die on the cross. That’s the meaning of Christmas.