“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.”
Isa. 9: 6 (NIV)
This is a season of transition, where we move from remembering all of the material blessings the Lord has provided us, to remembering the spiritual blessings. Christmas is a time of hope, when we recall that Messiah came to fulfill all the promises and to bring restoration between God and man.
This time of year, it is easy to be distracted by the urgent away from the essential. Between shopping trips, family gatherings, and office parties, we can become so hurry-up, we fail to see the lessons that God would show us. Recently, I realized that with the Master Teacher, class is always in session.
Our Thanksgiving celebration was marred by one ugly truth- we were about to lose our family patriarch. As he valiantly fought against the ravages of cancer, we found our priorities clarified. We did not care if we had a large Thanksgiving meal. We just wanted to sit together, around the Hospice bedside, in solidarity, in support and in grief. It felt wrong to ignore Thanksgiving, for surely we had been blessed. But it felt equally wrong to fill the house with the fragrance of cooking before a man no longer able to eat. It was a sober time. And if we were not careful, it easily could have become a depressing time.
As lunch time drew near, some of the family wondered what we might eat. When all of a sudden there was a knock at the door and in walked a feast to rival all feasts- from the hands of one family and another community group. As they toted in dish after dish, laden with all of the holiday’s best offerings, I felt reduced to tears. Even here, in the valley of the shadow of death, He saw us. Even here, He moved on people to be His hand of hope in our lives.
Pop was not able to eat the food. But he quickly acknowledged, “We are so very blessed!”
Just two days later, he would breathe his last breath and be ushered immediately into the presence of His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His battle fought; His victory won! We rejoiced for him and mourned for us. He received His crown and we acknowledged our immediate loss.
In that moment, the season was drained of some of its brightness and cheer. Merriment does not exactly describe our family mood. But there is peace. So much peace. And there is joy in his deliverance and victory. There is thankfulness that his suffering is over and that God graced us to make it through.
Now as we face the rest of the holiday season, we realize, as some of you may as well, that every season is not a happy one. This year we shall laugh and we shall cry. The happiest of emotions may not be evident in our family. But the joy of the Lord will be within us. The joy of the Lord is our strength. The Prince of Peace shall pour into our hearts abundantly. And we will remember that no matter what life brings our way, Jesus came. He came to bind up the broken hearted; to grieve with them that mourn. And in this season, that is enough.
Dear Lord, I pray today for those hurting through the holidays. Comfort their hearts, multiply joy and reveal your compassion to them. Stir in the hearts of all believers to be not only joyful but compassionate to the hurting. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
- Encouragement for the Discouraged