Comfort · Coronavirus

Suffering At Christmastime?

This is a re-post from 2012 when my mother-in-law was suffering with cancer and under Hospice at Christmastime. I thought it was appropriate for this year of so much difficulty.

The hissing of the oxygen concentrator is steady, and lulls my mother-in-law to sleep.  I slip in and pull the sheet over her shoulders and turn off the light.  Then lying down in my bed, the monitor in both our rooms in the “on” position, I hear the machine’s hissing, and also her breathing and frequent cough.  I whisper a prayer for her comfort and a good night’s rest for her.  These are the sounds of Christmas in the parsonage this year. 

Some say, “What a terrible time to have a loved-one so sick, here at Christmas.”  I’ll admit that Christmas in the parsonage is usually filled with a different kind of activity – the celebratory kind.  It would include parties, a hot oven putting out all kinds of confectioneries, and a calendar crammed more full than a New York subway at rush hour. 

I also admit that this year will be a different sort of Christmas in the parsonage.  Already it hasn’t been the normal routine of Christmas movies, cantatas, drives through the country to see the lights, or even baking sugar cookies with colored sprinkles.  Instead it’s been about giving our time to my mother-in-law, who has little time left. It’s not been about what I want for Christmas, but about what she needs. Instead of harried schedules, we find ourselves taking time to sit and chat, to ask questions of her, for our own memory’s sake.  “Remind me again how you and Dad met.”  “Tell me about the day you trusted Christ as your Savior.”  We talk about heaven, the things we know from Scripture, and the things we imagine will be waiting for us there.  We sing, we read, we laugh, we cry. 

It is for all this and all other kinds of suffering that our Savior came.  He was born a babe in a manger in order to give us hope for eternity – for what lies ahead that we cannot see.  We know that heaven’s shore is just beyond, and for that we rejoice.  This is why we have Christmas.  This is why Jesus died – to redeem us and give us a relationship with God.  He makes sense of all the suffering in our lives. 

So, really, perhaps Christmas is the best time to suffer.  We have all around us the reminder that Christ came to prevent our eternal suffering, and to keep our current suffering in perspective. 

Looking into my mother-in-law’s room and watching her sleep, I remind myself that this (suffering) is why He came.  It will be worth it all when she sees Jesus.  And just think, she could see Him very soon!  Yes, this is why He came.  Merry Christmas, Mom C.

Refresh your heart with this truth if you are suffering this Christmas.

2 thoughts on “Suffering At Christmastime?

  1. I needed to really needed to read this today. Christmas was anything but normal at our house this year and not just because of the virus. My husband had a biopsy on Christmas Eve Day and it looks like he has pancreatic cancer. He was feeling miserable on Christmas Day. I had a window visit with my mother where she lives (in memory care facility) and she doesn’t understand why I can’t come in and hug her. I have to ask the Lord every morning to give me the patience, understanding and energy to get through the day. He never fails in doing so.

    I look forward to reading more of your inspiring, beautiful blogs In 2021. They really do “refresh” me.
    Happy New Year to you and Pastor Dale.


    1. Oh Debbi, I’m so sorry. I will stop right now and pray for your husband and also for you as you navigate these difficult days. I read Psalm 138 this week and was reminded in verse 3 that even if the burden isn’t lifted, God will give us strength in our soul to be able to bear the load. May you and your loved ones understand that extra grace and strength the Lord will give you. Hugs to you, my friend.


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