Tribulations, Gratitude, And The Holiday Season

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Author: Cheryl Zelenka

Difficult times do not go on vacation when the holidays roll in. Loved ones still suffer, brave fighting men and women continue to endure battle wounds, financial ruin knocks down new doors, and terminal or debilitating illnesses are still diagnosed. But the “God who foresaw your tribulation has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.”  ~ C.S. Lewis

You might not feel like celebrating the birth of Christ Jesus this year. The trials of 2015 may have knocked you sideways, and an attitude of gratitude might be tucked further away than just your back pocket. God understands. Did His heart not break when we crucified His son?

“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” Isaiah 53:3

Yet, Jesus rose from the grave… victorious. He ascended into heaven and once again found His way to the Father’s right hand. Although life may seem like ashes, you too will rise victoriously. Hold on to your faith.

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” ~ Oswald Chambers.

God keeps watching over His children both day and night. His love for us is what strengthens and equips us, always whispering inside our hearts to persevere. When the act of breathing seems too great a burden, God makes it His business and breath for us. He understands our pain. He gives power to the weak.

“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.” Isaiah 40:29

When the mysteries and sorrows of life attempt to steal our hope, the promises of God are what we must claim. Write them down. Recite them out loud. Sing them to the heavens.

“We have to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging God’s character, we do not yet know Him.”   ~ Oswald Chambers

 God is perpetually refining His children and seeking relationship. Intimacy is important to the Father and He longs for us to draw near. The Creator knows everything about us. Isn’t it remarkable that the Potter wants to confide and share His knowledge with His vessels? Dare we ask, “How well do I know my God?”

Should this holiday find you in the grips of despair or heart-wrenching sorrows, be encouraged with this good news. The PEACE of CHRIST never left you. It is still available and free. The JOY of Christ is also still present. Not giggles and smiles necessarily, but real JOY. Christian joy is knowing God. This Joy tells us that ALL sorrow will pass and eternity awaits our homecoming.

Praising God for the blessed gift of His Son, especially during painful times, is in itself a gift we offer the Father. And in the tradition of Christmas giving, I shall ask, “Will you offer this gift of praise to the One who loves you most? To the One who died for your sins and understands your pain?” You don’t have to put up Christmas lights, or even a tree. Just celebrate the reason for the season with JOY in your heart. JOY that you are His and HE is yours.

“There is a great difference between Christian experience and Christian faith. The danger of experience is that our faith is made to rest in it, instead of seeing that our experience is simply a doorway to God.” ~ Oswald Chambers

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.”  Ecclesiastes 7:14

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1

“Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

By Cheryl Zelenka

 

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