Sometimes Christmas doesn't seem so merry. Most everyone I know has spent at least one Christmas unhappy and/or alone. If this looks like it will be that kind of a Christmas for you, I'm hoping that telling about one of mine can help.
I'd moved to Geneva with a very clear picture of what I was going to do in life. Rented a room in a nice woman's home. Had some money. With my student visa, I could get a job.
But by December, everything had changed drastically. My graduate program left much to be desired, so I'd dropped out. As a result, I lost my scholarship money. I couldn't afford a ticket home (and my parents had sold the house I'd known for years). Since I was no longer a student, my visa was invalid. The woman couldn't rent to me anymore. I was homeless, jobless, and purposeless. With my last money, I took a train to Paris to visit friends who said I could stay with them while I figured something out.
These friends were so loving and hospitable. The first thing they said to me when I arrived with my little suitcase, all forlorn, was that they needed me! They had to go out of town, and wanted a companion for their teenage daughter.
Before they left, these friends, who believed humbly and deeply in a merciful God, shared some simple, healing ideas from the Bible and from a book called "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy. They said these books had helped them throughout their lives. I don't remember the specific words, but the overwhelming theme was that Christmas is a time to celebrate the good news of God's great love for His creation. This was the good news that His angels announced to shepherds in the fields on the first Christmas. Those "heavenly hosts" were singing, "On earth peace, good will toward men" - a message for all time (Luke 2:14).
The angels were still singing. And they were singing to me. During the next few days, I opened my heart to God. I literally got down on my knees. (I still do that pretty often!) I admitted I didn't have the slightest idea what to do next. I invited God to announce to me how He would provide for me. I asked to hear those angels singing loud and clear. I also thanked God for providing me with these precious friends.
The evening they returned, I was helping the wife fix dinner when an acquaintance called from Geneva, the head of personnel at a large international company. She said that she needed several bilingual workers on short-term visas right away. Would I be interested?
Would I be interested?!
God's healing message did not stop there. Another acquaintance had asked me to housesit for her, so I had a place to stay. I still didn't have food. But by now I knew that if God had already provided this much for me, I could trust Him to continue.
As the company closed for the Christmas break, we gathered for a reception (I remember eating every little tea sandwich and hors d'oeuvre I could). Then the head of the company had a gift for each of us. Having done enough traveling for a while, I shuddered when I saw that it was a suitcase. But it was filled with ... gourmet food!
I had a job. I had a place to stay. And I had something wonderful to eat.
I spent that Christmas Eve alone, reading those books by candlelight. And I celebrated the prophetic vision in Isaiah, announcing the power of Christ: "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (9:6). When Christmas morning dawned, I looked out to see that a beautiful snow had fallen. And I could thank God for loving me so much. In fact, I've never had a Christmas when I felt more loved - and less alone - than that one.
Wherever you are this year, "have yourself a merry little Christmas." Rejoice in the power of the Christmas message: you are the loved child of God!
Of the increase of his
government and peace there
shall be no end ... upon
his kingdom, to order it, and
to establish it with judgment
and with justice from
henceforth even for ever.