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Even when a joyous season is stressful, there remains reason to sing
Pastor's Corner
gospel group

“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”
Psalms 137:4 speaks of a time when the children of Israel were in exile and under captivity in Babylon. This question was a one of sorrow and even disappointment. There they were in a land that was not theirs and practically were snatched out of a place of comfort. Questions formed in their minds. “How can we sing when we have to deal with so much trouble? How can we sing when we are face with such disappointment?”
We all have had similar thoughts and dealt with situations that made it hard to sing songs of joy.
For the past couple of years around this time, I have taught the children a Bible-study lesson to help them find joy in what is supposed to be a joyous season but can be filled with stress. There’s the pressure of cooking the holiday meal, finalizing the Christmas party, getting that dinner ready and who can stand disappointing their children with minimum, if any, gifts. Then, it seems, we continue to have the worst tragedies reported in the news this time of year. How can we sing or find joy in such a stressful time? How can you celebrate the birth of Jesus, whom you were taught was omnipresent but seems as if He is absent?
The answer is simpler than what you may realize. Take a step back, breathe, relax, clear your mind and refocus your thoughts. When we get to this time of year, we begin to think of everything we have to do but time for ourselves is not on the list. We must learn to set aside personal time to regain a reasonable perspective of life. A major stressor at this time of year is unrealistic expectations. We expect everything to go according to plan and be perfect, but that will never be the case. The reality is that there are things that will happen that are out of our control, and the only thing we can do is adapt and continue moving forward — just as we would any other time of the year.
We want our children to have everything they can think of, while the reality is children still will find something they wish was under the tree. We want to not deal with unfavorable circumstances this time of year, but the reality is there is not a “stop” or “pause” button in life. So how can we sing in the midst of sorrow and disappointment?
Well, you must understand how the story ends: The children of Israel came out of their captive state. Just like them, we will come out of our sorrow and disappointment. How can we sing and celebrate the birth of Jesus? Jesus says in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” The answer is to stop looking for peace from the world and look for the peace Jesus can only give.
This time of the year, we must refocus our attention on the real meaning of Christmas. Jesus may seem absent because we had a “Peter moment” and took our eyes off the One who can give us peace in the time of storm and keep us from sinking in our sorrow and disappointment. We can sing and celebrate louder because we know why Jesus was born — to teach and to die for our sins. Yes, Jesus did die, but He rose with all power in His hand early one Sunday morning. Just like Jesus, when life knocks us down, Sunday for us will come. And we too, can get back up. So begin singing, because Sunday is on its way.

Harper is a member of Baconton Missionary Baptist Church and the United Ministerial Alliance.

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