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A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

– John Sullivan Dwight

Weariness. . . It's not a topic we want to talk about at this time of year (or feel like we can talk about) but let's be honest: Most of us are feeling it. 

On Friday morning, I was chatting with one of my aunts and we found ourselves unloading all the issues threatening to discourage us. There's the endless COVID-19 conversations and restrictions and variants. (Quebec churches are now being required to check vaccine passports, which complicates things.) There's the weight of responsibility when we have church and family and work commitments. (And Christmas coming up!) There's our own physical limitations due to aches and pains and tiredness. (A small accident I had in my home a few weeks ago apparently twisted one of my vertebrae so now I'm stiff and sore (but, thankfully, not seriously injured).) Still, my aunt and I agreed that we found comfort and strength in knowing that God is with us and that He hears and answers our prayers.

A couple of hours later I got a phone call with heartbreaking news. My niece and her husband, who had been expecting their first child last Sunday and thought she was just going to arrive a bit late, learned that little Eloise had stopped breathing in the womb. She was gone before she was even born. I broke down. It just seemed like too much to bear.

Mercifully, we are not required to carry our burdens alone. The Bible is full of promises about how God will help us. (If you need some encouragement, here are 10 examples of those promises.) And, mercifully, my family is surrounded by people who have been holding us up with their love and prayers and support. (Please do pray for Alexis and Taylor, and for their parents, if you are a pray-er.)


I apologize if this issue delivers less whimsy than usual. It's the pre-Christmas edition. It should be full of cheer, right? Perhaps. Or perhaps it's appropriate to recognize that life isn't always happy. But there is HOPE. Bernard Williams, the English philosopher, once said: "There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope." And despite everything happening around me, I still hold to my theme phrase for 2022: "My cup overflows."



I don't know what you're going through right now. It may seem too heavy, too hard. I urge you to take time today to read and meditate on Psalm 42. Even if you don't consider yourself religious or a Bible reader, will you accept my invitation to read it. . . not for me, but for you? 


I'm not going to wish you a "merry" Christmas, but one that is full of hope and peace and serious joy.


MUSIC: Perfectly timed, this week I discovered a new Christmas song by the band Building 429. It's called Hope Is Here (Do Not Fear). So uplifting!

I'm sure I’m not the only one who, toward the end of the year, looks back and reflects on all the things I can be thankful for. Most of us will do some kind of mental inventory of the past year and assess what went wrong, what went right, and all the ways God blessed us.

This year, focussing on things we are grateful for may prove especially challenging for some. Besides the prolonged challenges of a global pandemic, there have been natural disasters, wars, and political tensions, too. However, there is a crucial biblical truth we sometimes ignore—or at least forget: We are to thank God for everything, not only the things we like or feel thankful for (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

George Matheson was a Scottish minister and hymn writer who lived from 1842 to 1906. He wrote: My God, I have never thanked thee for my thorn. I have thanked thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross, but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory. Thou divine Love, whose human path has been perfected through sufferings, teach me the glory of my cross, teach me the value of my thorn.

We may comfort ourselves by taking time each day to thank God for what we see as blessings in our lives. We may make a valiant effort at having attitudes of gratitude. But if we’re not thanking God for the thorns in our lives, we’re not really thanking Him. If we can’t look at a difficult situation and praise God for allowing it to be part of our life, we’re missing out on His greatest blessings.

The Apostle Paul understood this: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12).

However you celebrate Christmas and the New Year in the coming weeks, I urge you to take time to thank God for your thorn. Remember, joy doesn't come from perfect circumstances, but from a grateful heart.

whimsy & wisdom from the world wide web

I learned how to solve a Rubik's Cube when I was around 12 years old (in other words, centuries ago). Cubes have come a long way since then and their appeal is still strong. Silas Emerian, the son of my friend Silva in Fresno, California, recently won a competition by solving a cube in under seven seconds. Pretty cool!

Admit it, you've given some terrible gifts. There's someone who has never given a bad gift, though...GOD! For Christmas, however, He gave us something no one could've imagined. This peppy two-minute video illustrates the miracle of Christmas in a fun and poignant way. A good one to share with friends!

It's not what you think! This past Saturday, I shared this Bible study with the ladies at my church. It's a brief look at what we can learn from the shepherds in the Christmas story, about focusing on what really matters.

INEFFABLE

(adj) too great or intense to be expressed in words; unutterable

Once in our world, a Stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.

– C.S. Lewis (The Last Battle)

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