Hope for Christmas

As the Thanksgiving dinner dishes were put away, excitedly the children proclaimed what they wanted for Christmas. It had been a tough year financially with medical bills and less work. Jeff, the dad, suffered silently because he knew without a miracle, his children’s expectations could not be met. Soon the discussion turned toward their church’s Christmas program. The youngest, Joey, would be a sheep in the manger scene. At two years old, crawling around on his hands and knees was his happy place. Sabrina, who was six years old, would be joining her Sunday school class and singing two Christmas songs. Sabrina loved to sing. Belting out the words to “Go Tell it on the Mountain” brought her great joy. Sally had big dreams. At eight years old, she wanted to be a doctor. Sally was very good at memorizing facts. Her part was to recite the Christmas story. For a month, she’d been rehearsing her lines. Sam, who was in junior high, was part of the youth group’s skit. In fact, he had written the skit and wrote songs too. Sam was born with a heart for evangelism, telling the good news about Jesus. After the children were in bed, Jeff and Sue talked. Financially, they couldn’t fulfill their children’s Christmas wishes. That night, Jeff and Sue prayed asking the Lord for wisdom and His intervention. Jeff’s heart was heavy. He had always been able to provide for his family, but not this year. The attack on his mind and spirit was relentless. God continued to speak His truth into Jeff’s ears. Would Jeff listen to his heavenly Father’s voice? Jeff’s faith was being tested. With Christmas just around the corner, financially things had not improved. There was no magic windfall, or a raise at work, or any other unexplainable provision. Jeff was worried and anxious. The thought of failing his children broke his heart. Sue had suggested they simplify Christmas and fill the children’s stockings with smaller, more practical gifts this year. Maybe their budget could be stretched for one small gift for each child. The night of the Christmas program soon arrived, just three days before Christmas. The church pews filled with church family and extended family too. Joey, Sabrina, Sally, and Sam were excited. As the lights dimmed, Sally came to center stage and began reciting the Christmas story from Luke 2. Flawlessly she delivered the good news of Jesus’ birth with all eyes on her. Next there was the reenactment of the Christmas story by the young children. Joey, as a sheep, only got turned around once and started heading off stage, but someone redirected him. Sabrina with great joy, enthusiastically sang the songs. You could hear her voice above all the others. Sabrina loved Jesus and she loved to sing! Then Sam and the youth group, thoughtfully, shared the message of hope in the words of their generation. It brought tears to many eyes as they finished with a song Sam had written. As Pastor Mark closed the service, everyone joyfully left the church sanctuary. Jeff and Sue were greeted by many who loved them and Christmas cards were placed in their hands. On the ride home, the car was filled with lots of chatter. After their children were in bed, Jeff and Sue sat down to take a deep breath. “Let’s open the cards,” Sue said to Jeff. They split the stack of cards between them. Some were filled with beautiful greetings but in others, cash dropped into their hands. What extravagant love gifts from God through His people! By the time the last envelope was opened, both of them were in tears. There was plenty of money to purchase Christmas gifts for their children and a nice Christmas dinner too. One stood out, “Jeff and Susan, Merry Christmas. We know this year has stretched you through several trials and tests. But you have been faithful and chosen to keep God in the center of it all. This love gift is from the heart of God. God sees you and He loves you. May you and your children be blessed this Christmas and into the new year. Love, the Bambino family.” As Sue and Jeff hugged each other, they thanked their heavenly Father for the gift of His love. No matter what our financial circumstances, God’s love never fails or fades. May the Lord meet your needs this Christmas season.