The best part of the holiday favorite, White Christmas, is when Bing Crosby, in his baritone voice, sings Count Your Blessings to Rosemary Clooney. The advice is ageless: “When you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”
Everyone’s story in 2016 contains victories and defeats. Even if yours was mostly packed with victories, most are hard-fought and include moments of difficult work, questioning if the end would ever come and times of despair when it all seemed too difficult. The defeats come with their own set of worries.
Christmas is usually thought of as the season of comfort and joy, yet the world is not exempt from sorrow during this season. Perhaps life has changed dramatically for you. A cherished relative or friend might be missing from the celebrations. Maybe you fear being alone. Or the time brings back painful memories from the past year – things you wish could be undone, but can’t.
Remember at the first Christmas, Jesus wasn’t born into ideal circumstances. Mary’s fiancé, Joseph, thought she had been unfaithful and wanted to break off the engagement. Probably to calm things down, Mary’s family sent her to live with her cousin, Elizabeth, for a while. And just as Mary was getting ready to give birth, the couple had to travel on foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem – a distance of about 90 miles. Mary gave birth in a stinky, cold stable with only Joseph to help. Yet the Light of the World made his grand entrance as a little baby. The glory of that night could not be held in. Angels sang, shepherds and wise men came to visit because hope, true Hope for the world, was born.
Life will always be less than ideal, so it is wise to count your blessings. Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, rejoice in what you have. Rather than arguing with your family, praise them for the gift they are. Rather that wishing for better circumstances, embrace God’s plan for your life. And rather than walking through suffering alone, depend on the hope Jesus gives as He walks through the valley with you. Christ’s birth brought healing and promise to the entire world – no matter what the ache or longing, the sorrow or suffering. That is the best blessing anyone can receive.