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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas in Difficult Times

Christmastime is my favorite time of year; a time of celebration, of family and friends, of love.   It is a wonderful time to recall the blessings of the past year and to be grateful for them. But at times, when we undergo challenges and trials,  Christmastime can also be the saddest and loneliest time.  I know of many people having a difficult Christmas this year.  My friend's father and my sister's mother in law both died recently.  The parents of my sister's friend were both killed in a car accident.  A baby (due in January) of a young couple I know died because of placenta abruptio.  Heartbreaking.  In this season of joy, it is even harder to deal with grief and sadness.

Let me share with you about a difficult Christmas that I had and how I was able to celebrate it.  It happened a long time ago and all is well for me this Christmas, but it is still one of my most precious Christmas memories.  

As the Christmas season of 1993 approached, I started to feel depressed about the thought of Christmas.  My husband, Jing, died that year and I did not feel like celebrating at all. “What do I have to celebrate?” I would say to myself. “What blessings do I have to be grateful for?" 

One early morning, after another one of those seemingly endless sleepless nights, in my heart, I sensed the answer to my question - "What do I have to celebrate?"   I realized that indeed, I had every reason to celebrate, and I had much to be grateful for.  Christmas is much more than gifts, decorations and happy get-togethers.  Christmas is about how God loved us so much that He sent His beloved Son to be born as man!  To be God with us.  Because of this I had the Hope of eternal life for my husband.  The Lord and His promise of eternal life had been my greatest consolation and comfort.  I wondered, "Where would I be and how could I survive this greatest trial if Christ were not born?"  How grateful I was of this realization.

Then, the thought of a trip to Singapore sometime in November of 1989 came to my mind.  The Christmas decorations were already up and at the time, I marveled at the many lights, at how beautifully they had decorated the shops and streets.  And as I remembered the awe I felt while looking at all those decorations, in my heart, it seemed God was telling me that the most beautiful decorations and celebrations in the world are nothing compared to the beauty and splendor of Heaven.  I thought, how wonderful it must be to celebrate Christmas with the birthday celebrant (which was what my late husband, Jing was going to do)!  After this time of reflection, my heart, which was filled with dread and gloom, was suddenly filled with such joy.  This is the real meaning of Christmas, I thought.  And that first Christmas without Jing (which I dreaded) turned out to be perhaps the most meaningful I’ve ever had.

Reflecting on the joy I felt at that time, I realized God had given me the gift of true joy, a joy not based on circumstances, but just a gift.  Perhaps, it is a joy we cannot experience when all is well, because then, we would have a reason to be joyful.  But when we feel that our reason to be joyful is gone and yet we are able to experience joy, then we know, it is a gift and God can truly "turn our mourning into dancing" (Psalm 30:11).  For me to have experienced this joy strengthens my belief that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).   And although we never want to experience trials, this Christmastime experience of mine is precious to me.

7 blog hugs:

Cindy Adkins said...

Oh my gosh, Peggy, I am so sorry that you lost your husband...I can't even imagine going through that...I pray for happiness in your life in 2011 and you are right about the true meaning of Christmas...Sending hugs your way and thanking you for being such an inspiration.

Marilyn Rock said...

Your faith helped you be strong; I see it so often. You are an inspiration to us when faced with difficult times. The true meaning of Christmas has gotten lost in the commercial aspect of it. Thank you for this beautiful, moving, and reflective post. I will say prayers for you, your friends and family who have suffered such difficulties.

ArteDar said...

Hello Peggy! TY for stopping by and posting to my brought me here to return the thoughtfulness and to read your heartfelt story. I was having a sad Christmas myself this year. I worked so hard to take care of a younger sister and have family here for dinner and make everyone else happy that I seemed to get lost. We went to church Christmas eve but it felt different to me then usual. On Christmas day my dear son Cary and I were on the computers and I asked him if he goggled himself....I said you can find people that way ya know. He goggled his half brother and found him after many many years (approximately 18), and now we have contact....this was my Christmas blessings unexpected that filled me with hope and joy. I can now say that this Christmas has turned out better then any before and gives me renewed faith in our Father and Jesus....GOD BLESS US ALL.
Peace and Love and Many Blessings, Dar (and husband Deogracias from Manila, Philippines)

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I came to wish you a happy WOYWW and got distracted by all the sadness. I sure appreciate that you are always here to encourage me, and leave me such nice comments. I am sorry I missed your birthday. I hope it was a very happy one, despite all the sadness. At least you have your unwavering faith to keep you going.

I hope you had a great Christmas, too. Little did I know when I left suddenly last Wednesday that I would not have access to the internet. I didn't even get to wish you a Merry Christmas, and now it's time to wish you good fortune, fame, and fun in 2011. Now I'm off to see what's on your desk this week.

Nancy Maxwell James said...

thank you for sharing your beautiful and heartfelt post with all of us. I am sorry for the loss of your husband. I had many of the same feelings this year, and was thankful that Christmas turned out to be a joyous day - instead of a sad one.
I hope you have a Happy New Year and that 2011 is full of many blessings!

Kim said...

Dear Peggy, What a blessing this post is. How hard to lose your husband! And yet, you listened to God and trusted and he showed you truths and joy. May you continue to hear the voice of God leading you in the paths you should follow!

Great-Granny Grandma said...

Beautiful post, Peggy. You are such an encouragement. Thanks for sharing.

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