I have been feeling frustrated with my lack of “cheer” this week.
We have been so busy that it seems like there’s just no time for Christmas. Like we need to squeeze it in on Monday before getting back to our to-do lists.
Last night I was feeling particularly sorry for myself. The rain is back here in Portland, which normally I don’t mind. In fact, I’m usually really fond of it. But the rain, the greyness all around me, the clouds blocking the stars, and the trees blocking the clouds, on top of feeling stuck in this valley that is surrounded by mountain passes that my minivan struggles with even the nicest weather and an endless list of things to be done has really had me feeling weighed down.
Last night I lay in my bed trying to find that peaceful place. I closed my eyes and pictured a big open field with a clear sky full of stars. As I enjoyed the peacefulness of my imagined scene, I thought about the shepherds standing in their fields watching over their flocks.
What must it have been like to see the angel approach them? We know that they were frightened, but I think they must have been overcome with immense peace and awe when he spoke to them.
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Tidings of great joy.
Peace on earth.
All possible because of the birth of this baby boy.
I fell to sleep feeling a bit more peaceful and rose early this morning (Christmas Eve) for my scripture study.
I read one of my favorite passages in all of the scriptures, 3 Nephi chapter one.
The believers were about to be put to death unless the sign of Christ’s birth was given. Can you imagine that day approaching? Would you falter or doubt? It says that they became sorrowful, “lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.”
Keep in mind that many prophies and signs had already come to pass. But the big one, the day and night and day when there would be no darkness, had yet to come.
But behold, they did watch steadfastly… that they might know that their faith had not been vain.
I wonder how many people, on that last day, gave up. If the opposition just became too much for them.
I really feel like this is a reflection of where we are now. We have seen so many prophecies fulfilled and so many miracles. Yet still, at times, the opposition becomes so strong that many falter. Many wonder if their faith has been in vain.
Back to Nephi now, who was exceeding sorrowful because of the wickedness around him and the possible fate of the believers. So he prayed. All day he cried mightily to the Lord until he received possibly the most beautiful and hopeful passage of scripture in the Book of Mormon:
Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.
The sign was given and the people were spared.
Not just the Nephites.
Aren’t we all recipients of this great gift? When the sign was given, isn’t it likely that all of us rejoiced?
When Mary laid the baby Jesus in the manger, does it make sense that we would have been anywhere else but there?
Could we have been in that heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men?
I think so. With no veil to separate us from the knowledge of who our Savior was, I don’t think we could have been kept from rejoicing.
And now, in our mortal state, having a better knowledge of how much we need him, how can we not be of good cheer?
He came to save us, and he brought with him joy and peace.
Things get hard sometimes. Like, overwhelmingly hard. We face pain and evil and temptation and incredible sorrow.
But we can take great comfort in our Lord.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world.