“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 (KJV)
As much as we want Christmas to be a happy, joyous time, often it is not. Life is tough and no matter how hard we try, sometimes grief and pain over-shadow that happiness. People experience tremendous loss, whether in a loved one or in their livelihood.
Even in my own life, loss is prominent around Christmas. Many years ago, my dad passed away a week or so before Christmas. A few years later, my wife’s brother was found dead a couple of days before Christmas and a couple of years later her mom passed on Christmas eve. I even applied for a job with NASA, but even though I had a good shot and was fully qualified, I didn’t get the job. I was extremely disappointed. Yeah, the events of life can certainly dampen the spirit of Christmas.
It is so easy to focus on all the bad going on or how cruel employers can be when they let employees go just days before Christmas or burying a loved one on the day after Christmas. It is easy to lose sight of the great blessings that we receive.
I’ve come to realize that no matter how devastating something may be to us, it did not take God by surprise. During these times he wants us to refocus on Him. When we do that, we can begin to see all the blessings that He has provided.
In the death of a loved one, new bonds are formed between all of those connected to that person. Comfort can be found in those bonds and grief shared is not quite so devastating. The job loss gives one the opportunities to refocus their priorities and to concentrate on the blessings God will provide.
The passage from Luke shows the great gift that God gave us because of his love for us. A Savior. His own son. Could he foresee the death of His Son? Again, these things don’t take God by surprise. He had/has a plan. He already loves you. His gift proves it.
I pray that during this season that you look for the blessings. They are there, you just need to look. Maybe the blessing you seek will be that baby in a manger. Be a blessing to someone, look for ways to help those less fortunate, and yes, there are those less fortunate.
By the way, not getting the job at NASA resulted in great blessings. We didn’t realize that God had his hand in that decision. That job would have required us to move to Houston. If we would have moved to Houston, we would not have become foster parents. We would have missed out on taking care of twenty-one babies, including one wonderful now eight-year-old little girl that is my daughter and a special nine-year-old young man that is my grandson. What blessings.
***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.