When You’re Floored By Bad News

 

TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY

Christmas is a joyous season, but for some it doesn’t feel that way.

I understand. Some of the most painful events in my life happened in the month of December. The two miscarriages I experienced both happened in that month. My father died on December 7 in 2001. It was Christmas Day when we found out that my husband’s father had passed away.

Sometimes the happiness of the season only amplifies your pain.

Maybe this year you didn’t have a lot of good news. In fact, you had more than your fair share of bad news. Perhaps your job disappeared in the sinking economy. Or your doctor gave a diagnosis without much hope. Or you lost a loved one. You are waiting and hoping for some good news.

I bet the shepherds near Bethlehem on that Christmas night felt much the same way. The whole nation of Israel had been groaning under Roman rule. They were tired of seeing foreign soldiers in the streets. They were tired of obeying a ruler who lived far away. Life seemed like a long string of bad news.

So when the angel announced that he had good news for them, he immediately had the shepherds’ attention:

Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

The shepherds didn’t waste any time in going to see what all the good news was about. They raced to Bethlehem to see the baby and immediately told others the good news (Luke 2:17). They praised God for all they had seen and heard (Luke 2:20).

As I think about the shepherd’s response I am humbled. 

You see, the good news they received did not immediately change their financial situation. Sharing the good news probably gave them their 15 minutes of fame, but it didn’t get them wealth or power.

Still, they realized that this was the best good news and so they told others and praised God.

I, on the other hand, may not always be exuberant about the good news of the Savior. I’m tempted to continue to focus on the bad news: the doctor’s diagnosis or the generally lousy state of the economy. I forget that the good news of Jesus overcomes any of the rotten news of this world. Yes, things might not improve right away, but God promises a happy ending in heaven for those who trust in the Babe of Bethlehem.

So this Christmas I’m praying that I will be more like the shepherds–rejoicing in the best news ever!

The good news of Jesus overcomes any of the lousy news of this world. Click To Tweet

Jesus Christ is born! We are rescued from sin and death! In Christ we have life and peace! We are welcomed into God’s family. 

Next step: Write a prayer thanking God for the best news ever. And if this year is one of those years with more bad news than good, I would be honored to pray for you. Send me an email or share your prayer requests in the comments below.

THE shepherds

The Characters of Christmas: The Shepherds

TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY

Good news.

Doesn’t your heart do a happy dance when you hear that phrase?

For me, this year started out with a lot of bad news. My husband was diagnosed with lymphoma. A friend of mine lost her battle with lung cancer. Life seemed to be one long string of bad news.

But in the middle of the year things started to turn around. My husband, John, responded well to chemotherapy and we rejoiced when his oncologist gave us the good news that he is officially in remission. Then my daughter shared the happy news that she and her husband are expecting baby number four. And the cherry on top was the news that my daughter and her family are taking an a sabbatical from their work in China and will be here in the U.S. for six months.

Lots of good news!

I bet the shepherds near Bethlehem on that Christmas night felt much the same way. The whole nation of Israel had been groaning under Roman rule. They were tired of seeing foreign soldiers in the streets. They were tired of obeying a ruler who lived far away. Life seemed like a long string of bad news.

So when the angel announced that he had good news for them, he immediately had the shepherds’ attention:

Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

THE shepherdsThe shepherds didn’t wast any time in going to see what all the good news was about. They raced to Bethlehem to see the baby and immediately told other the good news (Luke 2:17). They praised God for all they had seen and heard (Luke 2:20).

As I think about the shepherd’s response I am humbled. 

You see, the good news they received did not immediately change their financial situation. Sharing the good news probably gave the their 15 minutes of fame, but it didn’t get them wealth or power.

Still, they realized that this was the best good news and so they told others and praised God.

I, on the other hand, may not always be exuberant about spiritual good news. I can’t wait to tell everyone the happy news that my grandchildren are coming for Christmas, but I may be timid about sharing the best news of Jesus coming for Christmas. I may be brave about talking about my new book, but may be timid about talking about the new life I have in Christ.

So this Christmas I’m praying that I will be more like the shepherds–rejoicing in the best news ever!

This Christmas rejoice in the best news ever--Jesus Christ is born! Click To Tweet

Jesus Christ is born! We are rescued from sin and death! In Christ we have life and peace! We are welcomed into God’s family. 

Next step: I would love to hear your good news! Share any good news you received this year in the comments below. And think of one way you can share the best news of all this Christmas!

When Your Soul Doubts Its Worth

DSCN2659

One of my favorite “jobs” of the Christmas season is to get out all of the Christmas decorations and put up the Christmas tree. I drag up all the boxes from the basement, assemble the Christmas tree, gently unwrap each ornament and hang it on a branch–all while listening to my favorite Christmas CDs.

This year while I was wrapping lights around the tree, one little lyric from the beloved carol, “O Holy Night” suddenly struck me as if I had heard it for the first time:

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

The soul felt its worth.

Do you feel valuable?
Precious?
Do you feel you are worth something?
Anything?

In his book, Fearless, Max Lucado says that one of mankind’s greatest fear is the the fear of not mattering. Friends forget to call–we wonder, do they care? We shuffle through crowds looking for Christmas presents–we feel like one of a herd. Among a world population of 7 billion, does one puny life make any difference at all?

Thankfully, the truth of Christmas is that you do matter. You are especially important to God. You matter so much that Jesus left the comfort and splendor of heaven to be born to a poor Galilean couple. He loved you enough to lie on a bed of straw. He cared enough for you to experience hunger, thirst, and even damp swaddling clothes.

He came to this world because of all our “sin and error.” He came to redeem us so that each one of us could live with Him forever if we believe in His saving work on the cross.

This Christmas, if while pushing through crowds you begin to wonder if you matter at all, remember that you are valuable in God’s eyes. He tells you in His Word:

“You are precious in My eyes and honored, and I love you.”
Isaiah 43:4

When I reread those words, my fear of not mattering melted, and

“the soul felt its worth.”

Question: Where do you turn when you doubt your worth?

What Child is This: Enthroning Christ

loving hearts enthrone HimOne of my favorite Christmas carols is “What Child is This?” Somehow the hauntingly beautiful melody defines this poignant season for me.

But I’ve sung it so often that I can do so without really thinking about the words. “What Child is this, who laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping” conjures up Christmas card pictures of the crude stable but doesn’t change my heart.

Recently a line in the third verse caught my attention:

The King of kings salvation brings

Let loving hearts enthrone him.

This stirs up a couple of questions: “Does my heart enthrone Christ?” “How can my heart enthrone Him?”

Does my heart enthrone Christ? To answer this question honestly, I would have to say, “yes and no.” Some days I do live bowed to the majesty of the Almighty God. But many other days I live as if I am king (or queen) of my life. I make my own decision. I ignore the King’s edicts. I spend little time kneeling before the throne. I make demands and become discouraged and angry when the universe doesn’t revolve around me. I live as If I am in charge of my own little kingdom.

Eventually, living like this wearies my soul. Living as if I am in charge requires a lot of pulling against God’s loving hand. It wears me out.

How can my heart enthrone Him? So how can I daily put Christ back in His rightful place–on the throne of my heart? When I look at the words of the carol, I see one key, “let loving hearts enthrone Him.” When I remember God’s amazing love in sending the gift of salvation in the form of a baby, I can respond in love. And when I love, it’s easier to allow Him to sit on the throne. It’s (almost) natural to bow in humility before God’s grace.

I can also daily enthrone the King through prayer. Each day I need to approach Him in the throne room of my heart and ask Him to reveal just who is sitting on the throne right now. If it looks suspiciously like I’m on that seat, I need to ask Christ for the strength to jump off the throne. Allow Him to be the King of my life. Bow my heart to His loving grace.

This Christmas season let’s bring the gift Jesus truly deserves–our hearts.

Question: How do you consciously enthrone Christ in your heart?

The Gift of His Presence

matt 1-23

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
    She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
    which means ‘God is with us.’”

Matthew 1:23

This is the wonder of Christmas: God is with us!

It’s the wonder of every Christmas, but this year I have experienced it in remarkable ways.

You see, this Christmas is different for me. My husband and I are officially empty-nesters. This summer my son got married and moved out-of-state. And almost four years ago my daughter moved out-of-continent.

The house feels a bit–empty.

When I was putting up the Christmas decorations this year, I was missing the days of kids clamoring to help. The breathless excitement of anticipating presents under the tree. The wonder of little eyes looking at the manger scene.

I was feeling a bit sad about the emptiness–until God filled my heart–with Himself.

He surprised me with the gift of His presence.

The other day I was turning a corner in my car when suddenly it was filled with God’s presence. My gray sedan felt like God’s tabernacle. I was overwhelmed with a sense of God’s love for me. Immanuel–God with me.

The next day I got up and saw a sunrise–beautiful pinks and purples and blues and God whispered in my ear: I painted this sunrise just for you. My eyes filled with tears. Immanuel–God with me.

Two days later I woke to a world cleansed with a blanket of white. It was almost as if God’s love was coming down from heaven in crystals. Immanuel–God with me.

And so today I am thankful. Even though my house seems a bit empty, my heart is full.

God’s presence filling all the emptiness.

Jesus came to our broken-down world and slept in a barn just to be with us.

Jesus felt hunger and experienced wet diapers simply to be with us.

Jesus consented to being a helpless, crying baby because He wanted to be with us.

Immanuel–God is with us.

Question: How have you sensed God’s presence with you this Christmas season?

 

 

When Your Soul Doubts Its Worth

One of my favorite “jobs” of the Christmas season is to get out all of the Christmas decorations and put up the Christmas tree. I drag up all the boxes from the basement, assemble the Christmas tree, gently unwrap each ornament and hang it on a branch–all while listening to my favorite Christmas CDs.

This year while I was wrapping lights around the tree, one little lyric from the beloved carol, “O Holy Night” suddenly struck me as if I had heard it for the first time:

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

The soul felt its worth.

Do you feel valuable?
Precious?
Do you feel you are worth something?
Anything?

In his book, Fearless, Max Lucado says that one of mankind’s greatest fear is the the fear of not mattering. Friends forget to call–we wonder, do they care? We shuffle through crowds looking for Christmas presents–we feel like one of a herd. Among a world population of 7 billion, does one puny life make any difference at all?

Thankfully, the truth of Christmas is that you do matter. You are especially important to God. You matter so much that Jesus left the comfort and splendor of heaven to be born to a poor Galilean couple. He loved you enough to lie on a bed of straw. He cared enough for you to experience hunger, thirst, and even damp swaddling clothes.

He came to this world because of all our “sin and error.” He came to redeem us so that each one of us could live with Him forever if we believe in His saving work on the cross.

This Christmas, if while pushing through crowds you begin to wonder if you matter at all, remember that you are valuable in God’s eyes. He tells you in His Word:

“You are precious in My eyes and honored, and I love you.”
Isaiah 43:4

When I reread those words, my fear of not mattering melted, and

“the soul felt its worth.”

Question: Where do you turn when you doubt your worth?

When Your Soul Doubts Its Worth

One of my favorite “jobs” of the Christmas season is to get out all of the Christmas decorations and put up the Christmas tree. I drag up all the boxes from the basement, assemble the Christmas tree, gently unwrap each ornament and hang it on a branch–all while listening to my favorite Christmas CDs.

This year while I was wrapping lights around the tree, one little lyric from the beloved carol, “O Holy Night” suddenly struck me as if I had heard it for the first time:

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

 

The soul felt its worth.

Do you feel valuable?
Precious?
Do you feel you are worth something?
Anything?

In his book, Fearless, Max Lucado says that one of mankind’s greatest fear is the the fear of not mattering. Friends forget to call–we wonder, do they care? We shuffle through crowds looking for Christmas presents–we feel like one of a herd. Among a world population of 7 billion, does one puny life make any difference at all?

Thankfully, the truth of Christmas is that you do matter. You are especially important to God. You matter so much that Jesus left the comfort and splendor of heaven to be born to a poor Galilean couple. He loved you enough to lie on a bed of straw. He cared enough for you to experience hunger, thirst, and even damp swaddling clothes.

He came to this world because of all our “sin and error.” He came to redeem us so that each one of us could live with Him forever if we believe in His saving work on the cross.

This Christmas, if while pushing through crowds you begin to wonder if you matter at all, remember that you are valuable in God’s eyes. He tells you in His Word:

“You are precious in My eyes and honored, and I love you.”
Isaiah 43:4

When I reread those words, my fear of not mattering melted, and

“the soul felt its worth.”