A Gift I Didn't Know I Needed

It wasn’t the happiest of holidays. With the death sentence of pancreatic cancer looming over my mother-in-law, the need for a liver transplant striking my mother, and an impending surgery for my five month old son, "Jingle Bells" certainly was not the song playing on the record of my heart. Still, the tree went up and the smell of cinnamon and ginger filled the house. Like every other year, we shopped and wrapped gifts. But, unlike other years, a cloud of uncertainty hung over the celebration. We simply did not know what the coming year held for our family.

I sat cross-legged on our livingroom floor arranging a bow on a neatly wrapped present with the traditional carol, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," playing softly in the background. Without thought, the lyrics passed through my lips until I realized what I was singing.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Isn’t that what we were longing for this Christmas: rest. We needed just to rest in the all-knowing power of God, to rest in the truth of Romans 8:28, that "all things work together for those who love God, who are the called according to His purposes," and to rest in the strong arms of our heavenly Father who sent His only son because He loved us.

Let Nothing You Dismay. I had been feeling a variety of feelings: apprehension, fear, dread, and, yes, dismay. I had forgotten the Lord’s exhortation to Joshua and to us all, "Fear not, neither be thou dismayed" (Joshua 8:1).

Remember Christ Our Savior. That’s what I needed, to be reminded. I needed to be reminded of Christ and his sufferings. I needed to be reminded to look unto Jesus, "the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)

Oh, Tidings of Comfort and Joy. Even in the midst of a troubling holiday, I had His comfort, His joy to fill my heart. Little did I know, that this would be our last Christmas together.

The thing about trials is that, while we are in the midst of them, we tend to worry so much about the outcome – the looming future – that we don’t take the time to look around us and see what may only be ours to view for a short time to come. My mother died that February in a hospital room awaiting a liver that never came. I held her hand as she struggled for that last breath and kissed her forehead after she passed. Thirteen days later, my mother-in-law’s body finally surrendered to the cancer it had been fighting through radiation, chemotherapy and prayer. Now that last Christmas is a treasured memory.

Maybe you are in the midst of a difficult storm that has regretfully thrust itself into your life. Take this gift I am handing you - the gift of my last Christmas with my mothers: rest, fear not, remember, and hold onto the comfort that is eternally yours.