There are everyday reasons that we may start to feel overwhelmed as Christmas comes near: presents to buy, food to bake, worries about finances, etc. We can be so busy trying to do everything we feel we have to do, that we don’t stop and be still long enough to truly enjoy the advent season and experience how God is working in it. Then there are other reasons why this season may bring discomfort: maybe seeing extended family is difficult, or this may be the first Christmas without a loved one and there is pain associated. I know about this and want to challenge you to see Jesus as I did. As advent season approaches, I start to feel a suffocating dread, filled with memories of seasons past that were all but joyful, but then I remember Jesus.
Three years ago, I was busy getting ready for Christmas when my entire life was turned upside down. In Hobby Lobby getting Christmas crafts for my classroom, I received a phone call that forever changed me. A very close family member had attempted suicide. I left the store with nothing in hand and nothing in my heart but fear. Driving to Columbus, walking in their home, cleaning up the aftermath of the incident, throwing up continuously, holding crying children and then spending the next four weeks daily driving back and forth and sitting bed side while my family member was in a coma. I was so lost, but spent each drive crying, praying, and singing this Matt Volmer song: “Bigger Than The Odds”. I was completely helpless, brought to a state of vulnerability I had never experienced before. Yet, so much beauty happened during that time. Friends from church insisted on doing our Christmas shopping, even buying things we never could have afforded. A friendship blossomed from sharing that experience. And then, God proved he was so much bigger than all odds by providing a miracle of healing. I had never felt so close to my Heavenly Father. He was with me the entire time.
Then the next Christmas, on my husband’s birthday night, we were going to a movie. It was only four days before Christmas, and I felt sick, but didn’t want to ruin his night. I ended up in the ER with a pancreatic attack that was so severe I was taken to Birmingham. In so much pain, I had no idea what all was happening or even what day it was. My husband decided he was going to bring Christmas to me as I lay in the hospital bed so he brought the kids and presents to Birmingham, and they went and stayed in a hotel. That night, two nurses found and trimmed a tree with beautiful decorations, lit my room with twinkling lights and even brought in an extra IV pole to hang and fill the kids stockings. They asked what traditions I did at home and they wrote a letter from Santa telling the kids to share God’s love all year long, like I always did. As this was all happening, I woke to what felt like a hallucination, but the next morning, when my family walked in, I knew it was real. Jesus had come that Christmas. I will never forget my son’s wonder as he looked at me, thankful to see life in my face and then gazed at the room in amazement. On Christmas Eve, Jesus was with me in the form of my nurses.
Today, most of us have a list of everything we need to do to get ready for the holidays. But today, I remember how I saw Jesus in some extremely difficult times in my life. Now, I anxiously wait to see how Jesus will show himself this year. I am not hoping for anything bad to happen; I am only entering into this season with the expectation that God works through my weakness. When I believe this, I don’t have to feel fear or dread. I also can let go of any expectation of having every list completed, every part of my home decorated and instead hold on to the promise that Jesus will be showing himself, if only I will see.
Contributed by Kristi Ramey.