When the family gathers and someone is missing, it is an inescapable pain. The traditions that bring comfort seem to be robbed by the changes that have taken place.
The pain of an empty chair that should be occupied is a visible reminder that things aren’t right.
In some situations, it’s due to a death. No matter the age or the situation, it is a tragic reminder of the fragility of this life. Our faith tells us that the loved one is in a better place, yet we are not.
In other situations, it’s due to a decision. Someone walked away from the Lord or the family. Over time, the drift caused them to go down paths and they have not rerouted our way yet.
Someone isn’t here anymore. And they should be.
Holidays are difficult.
Traditions are painful.
Expectations aren’t met.
Any year of “firsts” is challenging.
Circumstances outside of our control consistently remind us that things should be different. It’s frustrating because we know that they could be. They really could. But decisions were made. Life happened.
And here we are.
Yet here they are not.
There’s a chair empty.
It shouldn’t be.
It didn’t have to be.
But it is.
And here we are.
To all those gathering around a table with an empty chair today, whether it is vacant due to a death or a decision, it is acceptable to admit: things are not the way they should be, but it reminds us that another feast is coming and disappointments cannot linger there.
The pain of this life sets us up for the absence of letdowns once we reach eternity.
You don’t have to act like it doesn’t hurt, but don’t let it consume you.
There is a God who walks with you.
There are blessings still surrounding you.
There is always another chapter that has yet to be read.
There is the promise of eternity that cannot be squelched.
There is a table God is preparing in heaven (Rev. 19:9), and every chair will be full and the company will be reliable.
At our tables, people who should be there are not. At God’s table, people who shouldn’t be there will be.
You can navigate the pain of the empty chair now for the one he has prepared for you in eternity.