The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. —Psalm 34:18

The word ‘selah’ throughout Scripture is used as an exclamation mark at the end of a verse to help us pause and reflect on its meaning. Today, in day nine of our Christmas devotional series we are resting on Psalm 34:18. Selah.

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When You're Missing Someone at Christmas

by Amy Millar

When you’ve lost a loved one, every ‘first’ without them can feel excruciating.

The first time you go to church. The first time you go to the shops or work. The first birthday they miss. And Christmas—a time where families gather together to celebrate the joy of Jesus’ birth—is one of the most painful firsts of all.

Christmas in 2019 was our first Christmas without our precious son, Arlo. It was also meant to be his first Christmas, which added extra pain to our already aching hearts.

I wanted to run away and pretend that Christmas was not happening, which we did in a sense as we went away for the week of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. But with Oscar, our two-year-old son, still with us, we also needed to create special memories for him.

During this time, the most tangible way we felt the Lord close to us—broken-hearted parents who felt completely crushed in spirit—was through the love of our friends and family. The compassion they had for us and the way they were not afraid to sit with us in our grief during a time that was meant to be joyful was a reflection of Jesus’ love.

And as part of this, they joined us in creating some special traditions to remember Arlo at Christmas. We got special Christmas baubles for our Christmas trees and we took photos of Oscar with some of Arlo’s toys and a framed photo of him. I was dreading people buying gifts for Arlo so my mum organised for family members and friends to buy Gifts of Compassion in Arlo’s honour.

As we tearfully read through the cards the night before we left on our trip, we were encouraged that our son’s life had an impact beyond our family and friends—he was having an impact for children living in poverty, too.

I don’t know what traditions we will keep doing each year. We certainly can’t escape and go on a trip every year. But I'm sure we will hang Arlo’s baubles on the tree, and I hope we can keep our Gifts of Compassion tradition going.

“The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” —Psalm 34:18

The Lord is close to those hurting at Christmas. And we can be too.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for the comfort you bring to those who mourn. Help us to bring your comfort to all those we meet today. Amen.

Amy Millar

Amy is a writer for Compassion Australia, passionate about creating clear communications to help connect supporters with the ministry of Compassion. She’s also a wife, mum and novice gardener trying to grow her own food.

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How have you felt the Lord close to you when you have gone through times of heartache?

Advent Compassion Challenge

Today’s Advent challenge is to think about ways you could remember a missing loved one at Christmas or comfort someone who is preparing for their first Christmas without a loved one.

Send a letter or a text to a friend missing their loved one, reminding them that you are thinking of them and praying for them. Ask them how they plan to spend the Christmas season and if there is anything practical you can do to help them through it.

And if you’d like to send them a Gift of Compassion in memory, you can find the full range here.

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