We can feel free to bring our troubles, anger, frustration, and sadness to God, and we can be assured that He will listen to our every thought and word. His heart is moved by the things that carve valleys of pain through our souls. He is there when we weep. He is there when we ask why. His understanding and mercy toward us are considerable, and what makes Him great is that they are also considerable toward those we call our enemies. Can we be okay with that? Maybe we can. Maybe we can let it bring us a sense of comfort, knowing that God offers the same grace to all.
When someone is good to you, you want to share it with others. When they are kind, patient, understanding and self-sacrificing on your behalf, you want to give back somehow. When someone has extended mercy and forgiveness to you and has pursued you even though you felt you were not worth pursuing, you want to express thanks. And my way of thanking God is to tell others about Him. To share with others that He is good, patient, forgiving, humble, and a seeker after them. When Jesus left this earth to go back to His Father, He told his disciples to tell others about Him. To let others know that they could come to Him if they wanted to have a life with He and the Father. Both here and now, and forever. When I think about Christmas, I think of all of the fun things that our culture does to celebrate the season – the lights, the Christmas trees, the gift giving, but there’s this quiet voice in my heart that keeps reminding me that Jesus was the greatest gift ever given, and that Christmas is about Him being all we need when entering a relationship with God. We don’t need to make special sacrifices (Jesus did that), we don’t need to put on special garments (Jesus is that), and we don’t need to be perfect (Jesus was that). All we need to do is invite Jesus into our hearts and lives. I was lost before He became a part of my life. I was searching, but I didn’t realize I was searching. And even though I wasn’t looking in His direction, He gently knocked on the door of my heart and drew me to Him. There is nothing I can do to repay God for what He has done, but I can tell others that God is hope, and He can fill your heart with it. That’s not to say that life will be perfect, Jesus told us that life would not be without struggles, but He will never abandon us in those struggles. It is a Merry Christmas, and it’s all because of Jesus.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” – Luke 2:8-14
“Scripture does more than give us permission to express our sadness; it considers grieving
losses as central to our spiritual growth… To deny sadness is like trying to deny an arm or a leg;
it is to amputate a vital and necessary part of ourselves.” – Geri Scazzero
“I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?
Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.’
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
“…the Lord was with him and gave him success in everything he did.” (Genesis 39:3)
Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers. It must have been traumatic to be given against his will to a strange people, traveling to an unfamiliar land. Through the many trials he faced, Joseph remained steadfast in his loyalty to God. At the same time, the Bible says that God was with Joseph. Joseph went on to become the second-in-command next to Pharaoh, King of Egypt. When he saw his brothers again it was during a time of severe famine, Joseph had risen to a prominent position in Egypt and was in charge of distributing the food that his brothers had journeyed to buy. Joseph didn’t disclose his identity right away and his brothers did not recognize him. When he finally did reveal who he was, he wept so loudly that those in another room heard him. The Bible says that when Joseph’s brothers found out, they were terrified. Joseph told them not to be angry with themselves for what they had done, and that although they intended to harm him, God intended it for good; the saving of many lives. Joseph’s tears get me. Through the years he kept his integrity, had been a loyal servant, and was determined to fulfill any tasks he was given. At the same time, he had been forsaken by his own family, enslaved, and imprisoned. I am glad that God included Joseph’s weeping in the account of his life. Sometimes there just aren’t words.
“Search high and low, scan skies and land, you’ll find nothing and no one quite like God.” – Psalm 89:6
There is no one like You, God. When I look around and see what the world has to offer, I know that none of it will last and that one day I will be face to face with You, my Maker. I am reminded of a time in my life that brought me to a place of wondering about my future, and at that time it hit me that at the end of my life it would come down to just You and me. The people I love, and those who love me – they do not know my deepest fears. Only You know all of my thoughts. One of the things I struggle with is the fact that we all need to say goodbye, at least for a time, to the people we love. There isn’t any getting around it. When that happens, You will be the One taking my hand. No one else can do that. When I go home, it will be You I am going home to.
“I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too – your reassuring presence, coming and going.” – Psalm 139:1-5
I heard a voice behind me say,
“Don’t look this or that way stray…
For I will lead you in the way,
the way that you should go.”
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” – Psalm 32:8
When I was in my early twenties, I went through challenges in my life that at times left me sad and struggling. One night, when I was especially down, I cried out to God. Suddenly, it was as if a wave of love washed over me, and I immediately felt comforted. Two things stand out to me about that night. One, that the comfort I received was free; His love didn’t cost me anything. And two, that it wasn’t the result of my reliance on a friend or a family member, but came directly from God. What happened that night must not only have affected me inwardly, but also outwardly, as the next day my boss said something to me along the lines of, “What happened to you? Something seems different!?”
“But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.” – Psalm 18:6