GENDUSA COLUMN: A present help in trouble

Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2023

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A friend unexpectedly passed away, and another is in the hospital with an undetermined illness. A father has just entered hospice care, and a mother lost her only child. Cancer will strike someone today while another receives horrific news. 

A loved one will betray another, a friendship will end, and someone will lose their job. More children will die from the brutality of war or abuse while a teenager suffers an illegal drug overdose.

All of this is happening now to someone somewhere near us. And even as I type these words, a tear falls for those who I know are suffering. Sometimes, it is a struggle to find happiness and hope.

We live in a complicated world amid woe, fear, anger, division, and blame. And sadly, we have gotten more accustomed to doing so. It is as if the pandemic we lived through created an aftershock of negativity, mistrust, and doubt that we simply can’t seem to cure. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for animosity and vitriol.

Many political leaders fail miserably at providing one ounce of enlightenment or calm.  The behavior exhibited by those we expect to lead is often appalling and shameful. Courage, dignity, honor, and godliness have succumbed to their insatiable need for power.  This is not a political party issue; it is, instead, a terrible personal flaw that affects multitudes. 

So, what can we do to help turn things around, calm the outrage, and encourage respectful leadership? 

When I was a small child, my father rented a house on a vast farm in Tennessee. I can close my eyes today and see the white fences framed around red barns and open lush green fields.  The idyllic ranch provided memories for a lifetime, even though we lived there for only two years.

It was Christmas Eve, 1954, when my excitement and a bout of asthma refused to allow me to sleep. I crawled out of bed and went to the window to see if I could spy Santa heading toward the farm. I pressed my nose against the cold windowpane and scanned the meadow behind the house. 

The moon was full, and its glow illuminated the cows lying in the pasture beyond the fence. Stars sparkled brilliantly in the clear sky as I watched the scene before me. Suddenly, far in the distance, I saw the brightest star I had ever seen. 

As a child, I didn’t understand that Christ was born long ago; instead, I thought he was reborn every Christmas. 

So, I believed that Jesus’s birth was occurring out in the pasture under that beaming light behind our house! 

I wanted to run to my parents but knew I would be in trouble for being up at such a late hour, so I didn’t wake them. I wish I had because my asthma vanished when I saw the star and knew it was Jesus.

We can succumb to the despair and darkness in our world or look for the light. Our leaders will not find our peace; it is up to us to be peaceful.  We have many problems and much heartache during our days here on Earth.  And so many times, we search for remedies for our troubles in the back corners of shallowness instead of the open fields of understanding. 

We follow and applaud idols living in mansions instead of the baby born in a stable and wonder why we aren’t out of our self-imposed pandemic of hostility. 

The only way to live through the deaths, the betrayals, the broken friendships, and failed leadership is to look out the window of our souls and find the child born on the first Christmas. The son of God came to aid us and give us the wisdom and strength to endure our trials and tribulations. 

Christ is not a religion that lives in a church. He lives in our homes, walks in our fields, and abides in our hearts. 

He is our leader who is with us below the stars. And if we seek him, we will understand how to soothe the anger and stop the evil ones who use hate to win instead of love to ease our pain.  

So, as we head to the final chapter of 2023 and this holiday season, I pray we can each look up and not down, forward and not backward, and find the hope and happiness only the child born in the manger can provide.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1. 

God sent His son on a star-filled holy night to remind us that He is.