Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Baby Brings So Much Hope

Years ago, my friend Sally and her family found themselves in a hard situation. Their joint business venture with another family had failed, they lost their large lovely home and as they tried to repay creditors and investors, they became financially strapped. They moved to a much older and much smaller home. But before they could begin this process, Sally gave birth to another beautiful baby. I asked her if she felt as if the baby added to the stress of the situation. “Oh no!” she replied, “It was the perfect message from Heavenly Father, a reminder that even when we had lost so much, we still had what was most important, each other. A baby brings so much hope!"

“Come, Lord Jesus, to the Manger;
May we see thy tender face?
Great Creator, here a stranger,
Infant in this humble place."

Many of us find ourselves beset with sadness at this Christmas season. For a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways, we sometimes find it difficult to reconcile the happiness of the season with the sadness that surrounds us. Not so long ago, I found myself wondering the same thing. I wondered if I would ever feel the deep joy that comes when my heart is full of purpose. In my head I knew the answer; I knew what things were most important, but my heart just wasn’t feeling it.

I decided a purposeful study of Scripture was needed. What better way to feel the answers I needed than by reading the words of the prophets? I knew myself and my hectic schedule needed a little prodding, so I signed up for a class. I knew the requirement to daily ‘dig deeper’ would force me to take time to ponder, not just to read, but to read long enough to feel. 

Darkness scatter, Morning swell;
Come, dear Lord, Immanuel;

As part of the class, we were to choose an attribute, something we wanted to develop. And so the adventure began, as I studied and planned and, eventually, I noticed some progress in my feelings. I re-learned that faith is an action word, that to daily feel of God’s love I needed to also act. I prayed for, looked for and found ways to serve, often anonymously, that I might act on the faith I needed and felt. Sometimes the acts were small. And often, so was my progress.

October flew past, November began, I recognized that gratitude was also essential to warming my heart. As I recognized the many blessings in my life, my eyes were opened to more and my heart once again began to feel a deeper joy. And then, as if to test my resolve, a grandson arrived six weeks early. While his mother and father stayed in the hospital with him, two sweet siblings stayed with me. As the two kiddles and I snuggled together on the sofa one evening, we read a Christmas story. I remembered my friend’s words, “A baby brings so much hope!”. There it was…even while one baby struggled for life, we all had hope. Then I was reminded of A BABY who came to ensure that all would go well for all of us forever!

A few days later, a newly widowed friend said to me, “I just can’t be happy at Christmas. I have lost so much, I will never be happy again.” As I wrapped my arms around her in a hug, I knew the answer: A baby. A Holy Baby, the Savior of the World. Together we wept, but these words brought us peace, “…And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictionsand temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7: 11-12) 

Come in glory to the earth,
Come to us to rule and reign,
Ready us to kneel and greet thee,
Come, Lord Jesus, Come! 

I will always celebrate Christmas! This season is the season of Joy! Even the saddest, most heart wrenching things can become a path to know of God’s love for us in a greater, deeper way. I know of pain and heartache. I know of loss. I know there is One who heals all wounds, binds up our broken hearts and fills them with joy. He gives us peace, love and purpose! How can we turn away from celebrating Christ, who gave us everything? The baby who brought so much hope to the world! 

"Without Christ, there would be no Christmas. Without Christ, there can be no fulness of joy. Without His birth and His Atonement, we would have no Intercessor, no Advocate with the Father, and no Mediator who makes it possible for us to return to the presence of our loving Heavenly Father and live together as eternal families.” Bishop Gary M. Stevenson, Liahona, December 2014, The Reality of Christmas.

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