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Merry Christmas, Friend!! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ๐ŸŽ„โ˜ƒ๏ธ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽˆโœ๏ธโค๏ธ๐Ÿ’’๐ŸŒ ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

Hi Friend,

Merry Christmas!!

I pray that God blesses you and your loved ones with gifts that no one can steal from you any day this coming year... the gifts of love, peace, joy and hope in Him.

This is one of the more disheartening Christmases I've experienced so far in my life. At another time I will share with you more about what is going on, but for now I will tell you that I am healthy, but a couple others who are close to me are not.

The suffering of loved ones (or ourselves) is painful and saddening and can make a person feel weak, but God promises to renew our strength and work "all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes." (Romans 8:28,29) I can already see how God is doing this in my own life through the love we have for each other, and in this I rejoice...

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christโ€™s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

I don't like suffering and I'd prefer to avoid it if possible. It's hard to understand sometimes why God allows it and at times I'm tempted to question God's goodness. Sometimes I let my feelings lead me to believe that because of these circumstances God is not active in them or that He doesn't care about our wellbeing. But I/we can know from historical facts that this is not true...

We can trace God's loving intervention in our lives way, way back and look to Jesus to see that God is not a distant apathetic being, but a humble, suffering Servant. Among many other places in the Bible, we can find this truth even in the book of Isaiah, written about 700 years before Jesus came to suffer along with and for us:

Isaiah 53

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender [a]shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should [b]be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of [c]sorrows and acquainted with [d]grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely our [e]griefs He Himself bore, And our [f]sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, [g]Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was [h]pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our [i]well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To [j]fall on Him.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the [k]living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, [l]putting Him to grief; If [m]He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His [n]offspring, He will prolong His days, And the [o]good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the [p]anguish of His soul, He will see [q]it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out [r]Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.