I have spent a lot of energy and ink recently focused on personal struggles.
It is crucial we acknowledge those struggles, because God can – and does – use those struggles to help us, and others, grow. However, it is equally crucial we take time to reflect on the occasions in life which bring us joy, when God’s goodness and grace have been most evident in our lives.
A conversation with a friend this week brought one such occasion from Christmas Day six years ago to mind.
That December, Staci and I found out we were expecting a child, and Christmas Day found us in the hospital for Staci’s first sonogram. It was there we had the gift of getting our first glimpse of our daughter and hearing her heartbeat for the first time.
There are no words to describe the inexpressible joy of the first tangible demonstrations of new life the Lord had blessed us with. There are still few, if any, memories in my life that bring me as much boundless delight and gratitude as that day.
The timing of that memory still feels so appropriate as we celebrate on Christmas the greatest gift in human history - the birth of a child, Jesus, which was to be a gift to us all.
Having a daughter of my own is such a tangible reminder of that gift.
And, as we have watched her grow to an energetic and exuberant kindergartner in the years since, she has been a daily reminder to me of just how marvelous a Creator our God is.
As David reminds us in Psalm 139, from the womb, HE designed us in His image, to be a reflection of both His glory and His love:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Ps. 139:13-16, ESV)
This reminds me how precious each life is to our Lord. The one who knows every hair on my head, and every strand of my DNA also loved me enough to come to earth, to know my every struggle, and ultimately to take the punishment that gives me hope. He not only knows me intimately, but loves me passionately as a Father loves His child.
And yet, as a Father, he sacrificed His own Son to make the joy of this Christmas season, and the joy of watching my own child grow, possible.
So, if you, too, have been struggling through this year, I urge you, too, take time to reflect in joy on the priceless gifts you have been given by a Creator who knows and loves you.
And find your greatest joy of the birth of a child in a manger in Bethlehem, who came to give you life, and joy, abundantly.
Daniel Kiewel is a reporter with the Great Bend Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com.