This Christmas season, Mike and I have the joy of being with our family and friends in America. Our family members are all well, and for that we are grateful. We pray it will always be so.
We have many friends here, however, who are going through severe trials. One is fighting breast cancer; another has a daughter who is in treatment for a serious addiction. Other friends have a grown daughter having headaches so severe that they make her (and her parents) cry. The headaches have lasted for months. They came following surgery for a tumor on the otic nerve, the nerve that controls hearing. Compared to these headaches, they tell us, a migraine is unremarkable.
Still another friend is fighting to overcome the after-effects of back surgery. Pain, bewildering emotions, sleepless nights– would full recovery ever come? Like waiting for dawn after a long night filled with unsettling dreams, they yearned for the first faint glow of morning. For them, literally, weeping endured for a night. Improvement has been slow, though steady.
Everybody loves a snowman. Snowmen are fun: bright spots on dark winter days. But they have no endurance. Once things get warm, they melt into a puddle. The heat makes them less and less substantial.
But not these friends of ours. Passing through severe trials, trials like furnaces, they endure. And we are so impressed by their fortitude. They do not understand why their prayers have not been answered as they hoped; they weep, sometimes get angry, hurt. But still they stand. They endure, as Hebrews says, because they see Him who is unseen.
Now, many people who do not follow Jesus also model fortitude and endurance. So, what is the difference? Our friends endure to honor God, even when they do not understand. And in the hottest trials, we still hear their praises. They do not “gut it out” as Americans say. They “grace it out.”
Snowmen do not sing in the furnace. They just melt, sometimes leaving behind only a few evidences of their bitterness and self-pity. They are the marvel of a moment. These friends of ours? They will last for Eternity!
So this Christmas we thank God for the fortitude we see in our friends. We thank God for all the saints who have gone before us: for Joseph, Mary, shepherds, kings, and all who have endured harsh trials so that we could know about Jesus and believe in him.
And we thank God for you. If you are a PW, you know about trials. If you are still there, still serving God, still reaching out a warm hand to cold-hearted people, then you know about the grace that makes us unmeltable. Three young Hebrew men had it. Our friends who, in Uganda, went through robberies and attempted rapes have it.
It seems that God has been making snowmen real for centuries. Cold, icy, temporary– they become warm, caring and eternal through faith in the Child of Bethlehem.
To all of you, Mike, my husband, and I send our prayers for Jesus to bring healing, deliverance, provision, assurance, comfort and peace. We pray that the year ahead will be the year of jubilee for you. We pray that many people will believe in Jesus. And we pray for The Prince of Peace to extend his reign into lives that are presently filled with hatred. Reign, King Jesus, Reign!
With Love and Thanksgiving,
Diane and Mike Constantine