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Embrace God in times of struggle
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You may have noticed this — the “holiday season” is here.  
I can remember when Christmas did not start until the day after Thanksgiving. But before children went trick-or-treating this year, stores were in full Christmas mode. They want you to spend more this year than you did last year.
In recent years, Christmas has been at the center of controversy. Many school systems no longer have “Christmas holidays,” but have “winter break.” We have heard about stores that forbid their employees from saying “Merry Christmas,” but give instructions to say “Happy Holidays.”
It has gotten so bad that I have on my bookshelf somewhere a book entitled, “The War on Christmas.” I also have a book entitled, “Christianophobia.” I’ve not yet read that one, but you can guess where it’s going. Many believers are fearful that our Christian culture will fade away. I have to tell you something: I’m of the opinion that it already has.
But I also need to tell you this: That does not concern me.
I’d like to share two main thoughts with you on this subject today. The first one is that I encourage you to not lash out at someone who says “Happy Holidays” to you this year. In the first place, it is a poor witness to do so. But secondly, “holiday” literally means “holy day.” So inadvertently, many who offer the generic greeting are saying more than they meant to say. You certainly can respond, “Happy Holiday and Merry Christmas to you” if you wish. But take care to be kind.
The second thing I would say to you today is that you may be convinced that things are bad and getting worse. The church no longer has the impact on society and culture that it once had. And you would be right. But that should not cause alarm. Jesus told us it would be that way. The world we live in will not last forever, and the world’s system stands opposed to God and his ways.
That should not surprise us. It should not alarm us. And it actually should give us hope.
One could make a good argument that true Christianity is stronger in times of persecution and struggle. The idea frightens us a bit; none of us wants to suffer. But it often is in the struggle that we grow closer to the Lord. It is in the hard times that we learn to depend on him, and he has promised to never leave nor forsake us.
We can trust him. He is faithful.

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