What do you do when things don’t turn out as you planned? When the things you prayed for do not happen? When, in fact, life takes a downhill slide? How do you keep the faith? Especially while carolers sing joy, joy, joy!
A friend and her husband planned an overnight visit to us a few days before Thanksgiving. We live at a midway point between their home and a daughter’s home. A few days before their visit, they were hit by a car while walking in their neighborhood. My friend’s husband did not survive.
How will my friend respond? I know her. She will trust God and keep the faith.
We can do the same. No matter the experience. No matter the outcome. God is faithful to us in times of peace and in times of distress. In times of sickness and in times of health. Even in times of accidents.
I think of biblical Job. He lost his children, his livestock and his health. His response? “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”
I think of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. When thrown into the fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow to the image of the king, they trusted God. They knew God could rescue them, “But even if he does not . . . we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
By keeping the faith, these people gave it away. To us. And if they could keep the faith, so can we. We can trust that God will see us through whatever situation we face. He may or may not heal us. We may or may not die. But no matter what, God is with us. The Good Shepherd never leaves his flock. He cares for: Every. Single. Sheep.
So how do we face the tragedies, of life? Especially at Christmas?
· We thank God that Christ’s name “Emmanuel” means He is with us. His Spirit calms our hearts. His Word reassures us of His Presence.
· We thank God for small blessings. The support of family and friends. The air we breathe. The food we eat. The doctors and medications God provides. We focus on the positive, slim as it may seem.
· We wait to see what God will do. Perhaps he will work a miraculous healing. Perhaps not. Perhaps we will never know what he is doing. But we wait and watch for His Hand.
· We do what we can to help ourselves. What practical steps are required to ease our situation? Will we need therapy? We cooperate. Will we need help? We accept it.
· We hope. A candle on the Advent wreath symbolizes hope. Christ’s birth gives us hope that, ultimately, everything will be all right. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, came to earth that first Christmas, showed us how to live and died so that someday we may join Him in heaven. No. More. Tears.
God is faithful. In my own life, He has supported me in one way or another as I’ve said good-bye to loved ones and experienced losses.
Once, when I waited as Bill underwent a heart procedure, I watched tropical fish in an aquarium in a hospital waiting room. I was stunned by the exquisite beauty and variety of the tropical fish, fish created by our amazing God. Those fish reminded me of God’s wisdom and goodness--and brought me peace.
Recovering from grief and loss may require years of waiting and trusting. I know my friend has a long road ahead of her. But I also know she is keeping the faith.
Like Job, Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego, contemporary Christians around us offer hope in the midst of tragedy. And by keeping the faith, they give it away. To us. And faith is the best gift of all. At Christmas or anytime.
No matter what circumstances you face, take heart. Keep the faith. And give it away.
And have a Blessed Christmas—regardless of your circumstances.