Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love to give gifts, spend time with family and friends, and sing Christmas carols. Most of all, I love to think about what the Lord has done for us – how He was willing to leave His home in Heaven and come to this earth as the Prince of Peace…how He wrapped Himself in flesh and blood and gave His life as a ransom for humankind.
However, Barbara and I realize many of our Inspiration Partners struggle to find God’s joy and peace this time of year. Because of financial pressures, strained relationships, health problems, or just the busyness of the holidays, Christmas can be a season of stress, pain, or depression rather than joy.
Sometimes we forget that Jesus was born into very difficult times, much like many people face today. His family knew what it was like to experience political upheaval, economic stress, and rejection. It would have been easy for them to feel anxious or hopeless at times.
Even though I’m sure Mary and Joseph experienced great joy at Jesus’ birth, their outward circumstances were certainly not very appealing…
The birth occurred far away from their home in Nazareth, and the inn had no room for them.
They spent this very special occasion among animals in a stable, and the Lord Jesus had a feeding trough for His bed.
In addition to the difficulties of their immediate situation, I’m sure they had many concerns about how God would provide for them in the future.
So if you’re facing some challenging circumstances this holiday season, you are not alone. That’s exactly what the first Christmas was like.
I’m still astounded whenever I read the words of Jesus: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).
He could have given us a much different message: “If you make Me your Lord and Savior, you will never have another problem! No more trials or tribulations will come your way! You’ll experience constant victory, without even having to face a battle!”
Yet the Bible never promises that our lives will always be easy. The major heroes of the faith all experienced times of testing…waiting…and often persecution as well.
No, we’re not promised a trouble-free, pain-free life. But the promise of Christmas is actually something far BETTER: that Jesus will be our Immanuel – God with us in every situation (Matthew 1:23).
King David had discovered this amazing truth hundreds of years before Jesus even was born: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 NIV).
Friend, I hope you will let these words sink in. Even if you are going through “the darkest valley” of your life today, you don’t have to be afraid. Why? Because the Lord is with you, right there in the midst of it all.
ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING
Often the light of God’s love and faithfulness shines the brightest during our darkest days. Some of the Bible’s greatest statements about gratitude, contentment, and rejoicing were written by the apostle Paul not when he was on a mountaintop, but when he was in prison!
Unless we understand the context, it might seem audacious for Paul to tell the Philippians they could “rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS” (Philippians 4:4). Yet the apostle had experienced that constant joy in his own life, even in the most challenging of times.
He went on to write that we can cure our anxiety and experience God’s peace by centering our attention on Christ Jesus:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
I don’t know what you may be going through today. Perhaps it’s something overwhelming and heart-wrenching.
But let me point out Paul’s encouraging promise: When our hope is in the Lord, we can experience His peace in EVERYTHING and need be anxious for NOTHING. That’s my prayer for you this Christmas season.
BRINGING JOY TO OTHERS
Even as God brings you His joy and peace this holiday season, I hope you won’t forget about your opportunity to spread the Good News to others who need to experience the Savior’s love. On the first Christmas, the angelic choir didn’t just bring hope to a few shepherds on the outskirts of Bethlehem, but their joyous message was offered “to ALL people” (Luke 2:10).
This is a great reminder that Christmas is not just about hope for us as believers it’s about reaching the entire world with the hope of the Gospel. I love how one translation renders Matthew 12:21: “The mere sound of His name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers.”
Dear friend, “far-off unbelievers” still need the message of hope today. Through your partnership with Inspiration Ministries, people in more than 200 nations and territories will respond to the Good News of Jesus this year. Barbara and I say thank you. And more importantly, countless people in Heaven will one day embrace you with a joyous thank you for sending them the Gospel.
This Christmas, I’m praying you will wholeheartedly give yourself to the Lord and experience more of His peace than ever before. I also urge you to visit inspiration.org/souls and give Him the gift He came to give His life for…SOULS.
As we celebrate Jesus’ first coming, let’s never forget that He will be coming again soon. Every day and every dollar counts as we share this life-changing message throughout the world.
Your Partner to Reach the Lost,
David Cerullo is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Inspiration Ministries, located in Indian Land, South Carolina – a ministry dedicated to impacting people for Christ worldwide through media. The son of international evangelist Morris Cerullo, David took a less traditional approach to ministry, graduating from Oral Roberts University with a degree in business administration and management. He has authored over 20 books, and operates a global media ministry that powerfully impacts the world for Christ. More from David on Inspiration.org.