The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21

This has been a year of hard events. My husband died in September after a very lengthy illness. My daughter has spent this past year battling cancer and is not well enough to travel home. Her cancer diagnosis came on top of other health problems she has battled for a decade. My 92-year-old mother has Alzheimer’s and the progression of it takes her away a little more each day. She no longer recognizes her grandchildren and sits in her assisted living apartment with a packed bag beside her, ready to go home. Whether that is to the house where she lived, or to heaven, I do not know.

I received this note yesterday from a friend: “I think you are an amazing woman. You carry around a glow that overrides the difficulty of all you’ve been through. You are either very good at masking your true feelings or you truly know how to live in the moments of joy and save the sorrows for a later time. I do see below the surface and know which one of the two is true.” I share this very personal message for one reason only: to give God glory. For He alone is the reason for my joy and peace. He is the reason that no matter what comes my way, I can forever be confident in His love. When I fall (and I do, quite often), He is there to pick me up and brush me off and give me an encouraging embrace. My Creator supplies my every need and I am blessed because of Him. 2 Timothy 1:12 says “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.” The older I get and the more I go through, the more this scripture proves true.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day and I will spend it in quiet reflection, giving thanks for what I have because of One who was born in a manger in Bethlehem so very long ago. I will give thanks for my salvation; for the Son of God who took away my vile sin that I might live with Him eternally and victoriously. I will be grateful for that One who loves me so much that He never gives up on me, yet walks with me daily on my journey home. It is He who loves me, understands me, forgives me, comforts me, heals me. It is Jesus who keeps me in the palm of His strong and mighty hand.

Tomorrow I will also think about the faith of Mary who met with gladness the news that she, though unmarried and barely a woman, would conceive of the Holy Spirit and bear God a Son. I love the J. B. Phillips translation of Luke 1:38 when the angel spoke to Mary: “I belong to the Lord, body and soul,” replied Mary, “let it happen as you say.” In verses 46 and 47, she says, “My heart is overflowing with praise of my Lord, my soul is full of joy in God my Savior.” I will sing that song with Mary, for my heart, too, overflows with praise of my Lord, and my soul is full of joy in God my Savior.

“Truly, His mercy rests on those who fear Him.” Luke 1:50