A Christmas LOST?

Two weeks from today it will be Christmas, but for millions this celebration will not be what it usually is. Families in America these days tend to spread out, none more so than mine. My children are scattered from Florida to North Carolina to Alaska!  Pandemic concerns will keep us near our homes.

I suppose I may be something of a old sentimental man, but I grow misty on hearing that Christmas song that was born during World War 2 when millions of GI’s were thousands of miles from family and home. “I’ll be home for Christmas, you can plan on me. Please have snow and mistletoe and presents by the tree. I’ll be home … if only in my dreams.”  This need not be a Christmas lost, if we will seek joy.

I want to back up a moment and acknowledge the reality.  Millions will be longing for family and if you are sad you are not weird or unique. It may well be that you will not be able to travel to Mom’s, that your adult children will not make it home, that you will not stand in a church with others on Christmas Eve to sing “Silent Night.” 

Let’s remember that it’s normal and acceptable to grieve the real sense of loss.  So, go ahead and let yourself cry. Tell a trusted friend about your sadness. Buried emotions tend to be a lot like a splinter that gets dug in under our skin. If we don’t get it out, it festers and soon there is a red, swollen spot of infection that is sore.

Then, choose JOY!  God wants those who love Him to trust Him completely, even with our disappointments. Paul was inspired to teach us that we should  “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NKJV)  That triad of actions will allow the Spirit to flow in our lives with His comfort. What does He ask?  Rejoice! Pray! Give thanks!   

Think back over this year and call to mind the faithfulness of God to you.
How did He minister to your need?
Whom did He send your way with a word of hope?  
Thank Him.

With confidence that fills our prayers because of the invitation of Christ Jesus, ask Him to heal your sadness; then let Him.
A heart of faith can reach out to take His gift of peace that leads to joy, even when great sorrow comes our way. I know this personally and I live those words. I love the promise “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” (Psalm 30:11, NLT)  If we hang onto our sense of loss, if we focus exclusively on what was, or what might have been, living in the land of ‘if only,’ we will never be able to see His gifts for today.

And, then, don’t forget to share the gift of grace with others. 

Yesterday, I received a card in the mail from a pastor that I knew 40 years ago.  I sat for my written ordination test at Bob K.’s dining room table in 1979!  Somehow, he and his wife discovered my daily reflections and they have found encouragement in them.  Their note about the blessings they receive from my writing ministry caused me to experience joy.  Who can you thank? Who can you encourage?  It is a double blessing to share God’s gift of grace – for the giver and for the recipient.

Perhaps you can find a tangible way to share life with someone in difficulty.  Ask your neighbor how life is going and listen. Offer to help a friend in a practical way. Give to your local church’s fund for those in need. Pray for someone you know that has a broken heart.  There are so many simple ways to share care… and when we do … we find joy in the giving.

Our word from the Word is one of my favorite reminders that we are conduits of God’s goodness. Paul is writing to the Corinthians after he has been subjected to terrible persecution. It was so bad he thought death was imminent but God delivered him and he told them he felt like a man returned from death!  Then he says,  “All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NLT)

Let’s not make it a Christmas lost! Instead, though it may be different, less even, than we had hoped, let’s allow for the joy of the Lord to overtake the sorrow.


Living Hope

How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb
In desperation I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night

Then through the darkness Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished the end is written
Jesus Christ my living hope

Who could imagine so great a mercy
What heart could fathom such boundless grace
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame

The cross has spoken I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ my living hope

Hallelujah praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ my living hope

Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
Jesus Yours is the victory whoa
Jesus Christ my living hope
Oh God You are my living hope

Brian Johnson | Phil Wickham© 2017 Phil Wickham Music (Fair Trade Music Publishing

[c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC])

Sing My Songs (Fair Trade Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

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