Rejoicing at Christmas, even amid the suffering

December 18, 2014

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“Have a holly, jolly Christmas! It’s the best time of the year!” Burl Ives sings of a blissful season filled with a ‘cup of cheer.’ It’s Christmas… and we are all aware of people who are hurting. What if our cup seems empty? Should we rejoice? Yes.

Here and around the world, family members and friends may be distant and cannot travel. They will not be ‘home for Christmas.’ Loved ones are ill or hospitalized and may soon leave this life. Maybe they are already gone and deeply missed. Relationships may be strained; financial burden and turmoil may weigh heavy, and regret and shame seem to reign supreme.

In Sierra Leone and the West African countries of Guinea and Liberia, these scenarios exist, in part, from this year’s devastating Ebola outbreak. In your family, although for different reasons, the scenarios may be just as much a reality this Christmas.

With all the suffering, separation and death around us… rejoice? Yes.   

What happened that first Christmas? We read in the Bible that both angels and people rejoiced: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people…Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke2:10,14) Yet, we read that Christ through that first Christmas “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7-8)

Rejoicing amid suffering, separation and death: How? We read in the Bible that the short answer is purpose: love for you and me, hope for the world, “to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:11)

Speak to someone in Sierra Leone today, whose life has been affected by Ebola, and you will likely hear “Thank God!” Purpose, hope and love will lead people not only to survive remarkable challenges, but to rejoice. The remarks I most often hear offered by people who have just returned from their first visit to a developing country are: “The people there have such a hard life and have so little… and yet, they are so full of joy!”

Your generous support of Just Hope International empowers incredible people who face suffering, separation and death in some of the world’s most extraordinarily difficult living conditions. We are honored to know them and to be stewards of the gifts you have made to empower them.

Please take three minutes to watch the above video noting the hope produced by your generosity through prayer, volunteerism and financial contributions in 2014. Thank you for your prayers and your commitment to the people we serve together.