Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Relief in the Midst of Grief - A Guest Post from Joy Kay

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

I'm delighted to welcome to Joy Kay, Guest Blogger!

I love the holidays. But really, I love Christmas so much that I listen to Christmas music year round and sing in two different choirs in December. My family threatens to put me out and will not let me listen to it in the car until after my daughter Justine’s birthday, which usually falls after Thanksgiving. 

That said, it is my favorite time of year. No matter what my life circumstances are, I find a way to celebrate and rejoice in the days leading up to December 25th. I sing Handel’s Messiah with one local Baroque choir. Then I sing contemporary carols with my church choir. This concert is so popular that people line up hours ahead just to get a seat. I revel in this kind of anticipation from others who also want to celebrate Christ’s birth.

But this year is different. My mom passed away after a very brief illness in March. 

She was a vibrant, healthy, dedicated mother, grandmother, friend, and devoted servant of the Lord. I am an only child and I can honestly say that the world as I knew it has been changed forever. Losing my mother has put me in a tail pin that often causes me to sit still and hold on to the nearest chair. There are no words for how close we were, and there are no words for this grief that is so strong and so real. So Christmas is …I don’t know what it is really. However, in the midst of my grief, I am holding onto the words of scripture in The Messiah like never before. God is in my face at every turn. 

As I listened to the bass sing Comfort Ye My People during our performance this past Sunday, I was struck by the repetition of the word “comfort.” This word describes what I have been searching for at the oddest times of the day and night in this valley of grief:

Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to
Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her
iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight in the desert a highway for
our God. (Isaiah 40:1-3)

Life on this earth is warfare, especially the Christian life. But trouble won’t last always and is removed in love by God. “Comfort ye, Comfort ye,” repeated twice, gives us the double assurance that He is our comfort. Having announced the coming captivity of the Jews in Babylon, God now desires His servants, the prophets (Isa 52:7), to comfort the Jews. The scene is laid in Babylon; the time, near the close of the captivity; the ground of comfort is the speedy ending of the captivity, the Lord Himself is their leader.

It is God’s will that we are comforted, even in the worst of times. Through scripture, I have that double assurance that He is my comfort, and that the pain will subside.

And in the flurry of rehearsals from one concert to the next, I have had a chance to take comfort in what I am singing. God prepared me for this time and has gently instructed me to sing these scriptures and really get to know Him as I grieve. I am in the midst of preparing for another concert which will be filled with the contemporary praise and worship music that I adore and that allows me to adore Him. 

The message will be Glory to God in the Highest as we sing the song The Great Exchange:

Christmas means more than our gifts

What we receive no man can give

The gift of God revealed to us.

We sing Hallelujah Hallelujah

Glory to God in the Highest

We worship cause He so loved the world He gave His son

The Great Exchange (C. Bogan, J. Fisher)

So in this season, as I continue to sing, go to concerts, and take in the sights and sounds, I will be comforted by the message of the hope that is to come. Next week, I will go to a Messiah Sing-a-Long at a local church to get my double portion! This is a Christmas redefined for me, by the greatest story ever told.


  1. Thank you for sharing this powerful testimony of how God is enough even when it seems there will never be enough to comfort us.

  2. words,thoughts, I,too, needed to hear, after a difficult, beautiful year. Comfort us O Lord, as we travel together, strangers in a foreign land!


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