Monday, June 17, 2024
Monday, June 17, 2024
HomeAll The NewsJUST THINKING: When Sadness Turns to Gladness

JUST THINKING: When Sadness Turns to Gladness

I was just thinking about how, to many, the Christmas holidays are by no means festive. The effects of the holidays on a large number of people are loneliness, reclusiveness and sadness. Memories from years gone by, heartaches due to the loss of loved ones and being at a distance from family, all contribute to the sadness experienced by people of all ages and from all walks of life.

My Personal Experience

Growing up, being with family at Christmas was always a part of my life. The family would usually gather at my uncle and aunt’s home. Of course, there was the exchange of gifts, but the reading of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2 by different ones year after year was memorable.

Karen and I married Dec. 7, 1968. I was in the Army at the time. Two years later, I was in South Korea and Karen was in Arkansas. Thanksgiving 1970 was different, but it was not sad.

However, as the memories of our first two Christmases came to mind, a feeling of sadness overtook me. It was a feeling I had never experienced before. I was in the midst of an Army post filled with soldiers — yet I was extremely lonely.

Karen and I wrote each other every day for 13 months. Her letters were a lifeline for which I will always be grateful. But after reading them each day in December, the loneliness and sadness would creep in.

Faith Makes the Difference — What does one do when the holidays bring loneliness and sadness? I recommend the approach I took — I claimed the promises of God’s Word.

I was a chaplain administrator in the army. In Korea, I taught a Bible study with 20-25 soldiers attending. In the quest to encourage them with Scriptures, I found myself also being encouraged.

Jesus knew our needs and provided help for us. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:26-27).

As I read that to the other men, I immediately realized that the promise was for all of us — including me. My faith had faltered, but it was strengthened and a peace came over me.

Sadness Turns to Gladness — Just as I was concluding the lesson the week before Christmas, one of the soldiers began to sing “Joy to the World.” One by one the others joined in. There we were 7,000–8,500 miles from those we loved, and we were singing about joy. Our sadness was turned to gladness! I still missed Karen and the others still missed their families, but the peace that passes understanding had overtaken the sadness.

Encourage Others — Many of us will likely encounter people we know and love that are affected during the holidays by loneliness and sadness. Please do your utmost to encourage them, uplift their spirits and remind them of the true meaning of Christmas.

Jesus came to be Emmanuel. He is “God with us.” He has given us the helper who comes along beside us — the Holy Spirit, whom He promised always to be present. We are never alone!

This scripture has been my life verse for 58 years. I hope it encourages you today. “So do not fear, I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).

You will read this from me frequently — God is not just a promise maker; He is a promise keeper. Every day, not just at Christmas, God always keeps His promises.

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