It’s Beginning to Look A LOT Like Christmas🎄

Christmas means different things to all of us. It can be a time of great joy or a time of great stress due to “pressures of the season.” But at the heart of it, Christmas is a joyful celebration of the birth of our Savior over 2000 years ago. Below are images that speak Christmas to me – snow covered trees, cardinals, candles, shepherds and the star, hot cocoa, Christmas cards, Christmas trees, and snow-covered chapels. Whatever speaks the season to you, I pray a breath of peace, a chorus of beauty, and a warm cup of comfort and joy over you and yours this Christmas 2021.

If this Christmas is painful for you, I am praying a supernatural touch from Jesus. There has been unimaginable illness and loss these past many months. I know many who have added grief to the colors of their holiday season. And this is never something intentionally added to anyone’s Christmas list. But for many it has shown up, uninvited and certainly unwanted.

If this is you, my heart aches for you this holiday season. I pray the story of the Nativity would remind you how very much you are loved: “unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

Encourage someone who is hurting. HELP SOMEONE who could use your help. GIVE to a family or to an organization to meet tangible needs. SO many have lost so much in the recent storms! LORD, the needs of the world are beyond our comprehension. So many are grieving so much loss and suffering so much misery that it overwhelms us. But we can do something if we listen for Your nudge. Help us to be Your hands and feet especially now and in this season.

In Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25:35-40 He said, “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” The hearers asked when had they done that and He said, 40I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

LOVE ONE ANOTHER

When Life Gets Hard

God won’t give you more than you can handle…” Odd, I can’t seem to find that verse in the Bible. I’m guessing Job would take exception to that cliche. So would Joseph. Paul certainly did. “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself…” II Corinthians 1:8 Why would God allow him to experience hurt more than he could handle? Read on. “…so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” II Corinthians 1:9 Truth? Cancer is more than you can handle. So is infidelity. So is caregiving. So is rejection. So is death and loss and grief and prodigal children and 101 other life struggles. God doesn’t expect YOU to handle it. He expects you to hand it over to HIM. He doesn’t want you relying on your strength, but on His. If we keep walking around thinking “God won’t give me more than I can handle,” we’re setting ourselves up for heavenly disappointment. Good news? He beckons for your burdens, “Cast your cares upon Me…” I Peter 5:7 You will never know relief until you do. For this hard place, I have Jesus! –courageouslivingbooks.com

I take no credit for the powerful words written above. But these words really resonated with me so I saved them. The only credit I could find appears as Courageous Living Books, so I gratefully acknowledge them for this message. When I first read this a few years back I was struck by the many cliches we tell ourselves. The writer of these words referred back to some seriously impressive heroes of the faith to point out that no, we cannot always handle what life throws at us. We were never created to be that self-sufficient. We need Jesus! He is our hope, our Rock and Redeemer. Our hope lies not in ourselves but in the God who is always waiting to carry our burdens and set our feet on solid ground. The Apostle Paul said, ”But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.” 2 Cor 4: 7, 8. We are the jars of clay, but the power to make it through comes as we reach up to God in prayer seeking His power and His presence to help us through, often one painful step at a time.

I paint a lot of paths, probably because one of my favorite Bible verses (maybe one of yours as well) comes from Proverbs 3:5, 6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Thank you, King Solomon, for your wisdom that resounds through the ages. I may not know what lies in the distant future or even what decisions I may face tomorrow, but I acknowledge the One who knows all things. And it is to Him I entrust the outcome.

Lord, this world is often very hard! We are discouraged at every turn it seems. We truly want to do this life WELL and receive that powerful word from You at the end of our life, ”Well done, good and faithful Servant!” So we acknowledge we struggle and admit we wrestle with fear and uncertainty. We confess we are often faithless — but You, O Lord, are eternally faithful. We have no strength or wisdom in ourselves, but You promise not only wisdom, but your strength and power, if only we’ll ask it of You. So we ASK, Lord! Help us to REMEMBER and to RELY on You when the going gets hard. We can’t do life without You.

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even

youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:28-31‬ ‭NLT‬‬