Joy, Pain, and Peace
Quite the weekend! At a client appreciation dinner Friday night, Don and I received a significant answer to prayer, not only for us, but for someone we love.
Saturday we attended a magnificent Christmas concert at Twin Lakes Church. The rafters were raised and joy was present! Two hundred singers, instrumentalists, dancers, American Idol finalist James Durbin; Rebecca Jackson, violinist with the San Francisco Ballet; and Grammy award winning cellist Jonah Kim told the story, not only of Jesus’ birth, but of the cosmic war going on between light and darkness, and the knowledge that God in Christ has won the battle at the Cross, that Jesus is Lord!
My physical therapist, Emily, joined us, as did a former Intel colleague and his wife, Bill and Carol Munger. Bill and I haven’t been in touch for eleven years, until I recently learned he and Carol now live in the same area as we do. Wonderful to enjoy this concert with these friends. We were all lifted up, encouraged, renewed in spirit.
And tonight, we will celebrate a 50th birthday for one of my daughters-in-faith.
We are richly blessed in the things that really matter–family, friends, the God who is here with us, Immanuel. Beautiful, centering music. This morning, sunlight streaming through the window as Don and I sat across from each other, reading God’s Word and having our minds renewed.
Yet in the middle of all the festivities and celebration and joy, there is lots of pain.
- Families have lost, and are losing, homes to California wildfires. Some don’t know where their next housing will come from.
- Finances get stretched in the desire to provide a wonderful Christmas to our families.
- A friend’s infant nephew is in the hospital with three infections.
- Another friend’s husband has been in the hospital, fighting for his life, for over 200 days.
- Families are stressed because of conflict, finances, illness, and other challenges.
- Loneliness is heightened during a season focused on love, when many are surrounded by loved ones and it sometimes feels like everyone else has it together.
- Political conflict abounds, here and abroad.
With all our technologies, our knowledge, life is still hard. Jesus said that “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT) While we still face difficulties, we have a God who has promised to be with us in all, who cares for our pain, and who promises His people a future when justice will reign, illness will have died forever, and we will live in peace, love and joy in His presence for all eternity.
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule.” (Matthew 5:3, MSG)
Will you join me in focusing on moments of joy and gratitude this Christmas season, rather than in the “to do lists” we all have for the holidays? Let’s make more of presence than of presents; of the beauty in our loved ones than in our homes; of God’s good gifts than in our wish lists.
Blessings to each of you this Christmas!