"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will
receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." James 1:12 (NIV)
Wow, what a year this has been! First of all, where has the time gone? It seems that we were just celebrating the Baptism of the Lord in January and here we are in December! Last year at this time, multitudes of our neighbors and some of our own folks were picking up the pieces after Hurricane Michael. For many of our neighbors, that turned into insurance claims and rebuilding headaches and heartbreaks. Indeed, many folks in our area are still trying to get their lives back to some semblance of order and they are weary. For some they don't even see the light at the end of the tunnel. On the West End of "The Beach" we have been overwhelmed with increased traffic, increased rent and an anxiety level in public places that has changed the way we live. In addition to all of this, many of us have suffered medical issues, grief at losing a loved one and financial stress as jobs disappear or businesses close. There are many who wonder if they should even keep fighting the good fight.
The truth is this: God told us there would be times when we would be immersed in suffering and has shown us the way through it. We are told to hold onto the teachings of Jesus through it all and we will be guided to the end of whatever trial we are going through. Indeed, the Lord promises us that we will even grow in our suffering so that we are closer to Jesus having suffered with Him. How glorious it is to know that we worship a God who weeps when we weep, who laughs when we laugh and wants us to have the best life possible in this realm so that we may join the Lord in the next realm.
The Old Hymn, "O Little Town of Bethlehem" has a line in it that reads, "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight". And, Brothers and Sisters, that is the hallelujah moment. Because of the miracle that happened 2000 years ago, we have a Savior that will love us and guide us through all the years' struggles . . . EVERY YEAR until such time when we are called to our reward. Yes, Christmas is a celebration of Jesus' birth but it is also a reminder that we have already won this victory! The sufferings of the present time are NOTHING compared to the glory which is to come (Romans 8:18) and come it shall!!! Glory to God in the highest and on Earth, peace and goodwill to all people! Amen
Pastor John Woodrow