Surrounded by Glory

  • Dec. 20, 2016
  • #9037

If this Christmas you are struggling with trials, and feeling overwhelmed, look for God’s blessing and radiance in the small things.

Surrounded by Glory

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with an unusual Christmas story.

It’s a story that my good friend Pat Verbal shared with me recently. Pat and I work together at Joni and Friends; she was key and instrumental in designing the new Beyond Suffering Bible. That woman poured her whole heart and soul into it because Pat understands suffering, and she also understands the hope that is found in Christ beyond suffering. You see, for several years now she’s been tending to the needs of her husband who has Alzheimer’s. Stan is in the last stages of this terrible disease, and that’s made the Christmas season very different from holidays past. In fact, this is what Pat wrote me the other day. She said,

“Oh my goodness, let’s be honest, it’s not easy for me to get into the Christmas spirit. There is so much to get done, and time seems to fly by like a sprinter headed for the finish line. It usually helps me to reflect on memories from past Christmases: stringing popcorn garland with the kids, putting together bikes at midnight, surprising a friend with the perfect gift, holding hands during the Christmas Eve service, reading Luke 2 by candlelight, and sipping hot chocolate after caroling.
“But this Christmas is very different with my sweet husband in the final stage of Alzheimer’s. This year caregivers come and go throughout the day, holiday foods are pureed before feedings, the washer and dryer hum constantly with loads of laundry, party and concert invitations must be declined, med schedules are posted on the fridge, and tree lights sparkle in the chrome of his wheelchair.”

Then Pat goes on to say this, she says,

“Yet, when I stop to meditate on the nativity story, I’m overwhelmed by the ‘radiance of the Lord's glory’ that surrounds us as it did the shepherds so long ago. Me caring for the man I’ve loved most of my life is a precious gift. I’m blessed with God’s love in my sweetheart’s bright smile, God’s comfort in caring calls from friends praying for us, God’s voice in scriptures read together each night, and God’s promise of an eternity with Jesus, Our Savior, and those we love. So, rejoice with us this Christmas – being ever mindful of the ‘radiance of the Lord's glory’ talked about in Luke chapter 2, verse 9. It says there that ‘the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them.’ And that’s what I'm experiencing with my husband Stan and his Alzheimer’s. The brightness of God's glory surrounding Stan and me, God truly is Emmanuel with us.”

Wow! You know what Pat Verbal just shared there really is the true spirit of Christmas. For the radiance of the Lord's glory always shines brightest through weakness, no matter what season of the year. God sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to be born in weakness; in poverty; in the cold and in the dark; in a humble manger in a smelly stable. So friend, if this Christmas season you are struggling with illness or injury, or maybe you are serving as a caregiver to a loved one with a disability like Stan’s, look for the blessings, look for the radiance of God's glory in the small things. And know that God is Emmanuel; God is with you, especially in your weakness.

If you’d like to jot my friend Pat a word of encouragement, you can do so on my radio page. Just visit joniandfriends.org/radio and we will forward your comments and encouragements on to her. And finally, I pray that you will experience the true spirit, the true meaning of Christmas through your weakness, your afflictions as well. God bless you, and thank you so much for praying for Pat and her husband Stan.

© Joni and Friends

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