Thursday, December 25, 2014

Watching for God’s Quiet Gifts This Holiday Season: The Gift of The Overcomer

Christmas Eve smelled of cigarette smoke, hard liquor, and stale, unwashed clothes. From bright red hats and shiny shoes to torn flannel shirts and dirty jeans, the crowd had one thing in common: life had hit them hard and they were in need this Christmas. 

Some needed a roof over their heads, some needed a coat. Others just needed to get warm for awhile. 

The long line of people stretched for more than a block around the building outside. They did not seem to mind the rain as they laughed and huddled together patiently, awaiting their turn to come inside and receive gifts of food, toys, and clothing.

My young son with the Tender Heart watched the crowd carefully, quickly noticing when someone needed help with a bag, or a child stared longingly at a toy. Immediately he sprang to their sides, offering assistance and gently taking a child’s hand as he procured the desired object and placed it in happy arms. 

When an old man humbly asked for a bottle of soda, he gave him a whole bag of them. Making sure everyone had a plate of warm food, Servant Heart bustled around the tables like a busy little waiter.

A few hours later as I tucked him into bed for Christmas Eve dreaming, I quietly said to him, “I saw your heart of compassion and service tonight. You are a very caring boy and you feel deeply for those who are hurting. You are very special.”

He looked up at me and said with sincerity, “That’s what bullies look for. They look for nice and caring people to hurt.”

I never have to wonder what is on this one’s mind.

2014 has been a painful year for him, for us. Bullying nearly devastated him with its cruelty and harm this summer, and we have been rebuilding our son’s self-esteem and taking measures to ensure safer boundaries for our family in the months since. 

Bullying is no distant reality; it is here, in our communities, in our schools, and its damage can be permanent. And nice and caring kids, the ones whose gifts and talents are not valued, seem to wear targets on their backs.

We must stand up to bullying.
We must stand up to bullying.
Our family has taken a costly stand, and our hearts have been wrenched as we have watched our son struggle to overcome the damage bullying caused. This journey has made us keenly aware of our own inability to mend our children’s hearts, to take away the hurt. Rather than feeling strong, we have often felt weak and helpless.  

But there is One who is able to mend the brokenness and hurt, one who can help us stand, One who is an Overcomer. 

His name is Jesus, and He overcame a bully on that first Christmas so long ago. 

There are innumerable stories of Christmas. 

  • The story of a young girl who trusted God and became the mother of the Savior. 
  • The story of the husband who chose honor. 
  • The shepherd who stepped out in faith. 
  • And many more. 

But this year, I was shown that Christmas is the story of an Overcomer. 

One who overcame the bully who targeted him even before he was born. A bully named King Herod. Herod had at his disposal all the wisdom of the wise counselors in his court, all the astronomers, all the soldiers. But he could not defeat the wisdom and protection of God the Father for His son Jesus. 

Jesus the Overcomer. He overcame all the bullies in His life, and defeated them permanently with His death and resurrection.  And He is with our children to defeat theirs. 

He said to his disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV)

As I shared this Christmas story with my little boy, I watched in amazement as the words settled down like a soothing balm on his brow. Creases of anxious concern were smoothed away with peace and calm. Trust is so uncomplicated for children.

It was Christmas Eve. And all was calm, all was bright. And as I quietly prayed for him, I thanked our Father for sending the Overcomer, and asked Him to make my trust uncomplicated, too.

What is bullying you this holiday season? 

May you trust the Overcomer and be filled with courage and confidence. You are treasured by God, and I am praying for you dear reader. 

Merry Christmas!

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