Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, can be the most difficult holiday of all. December is a natural time for reflection. Many are faced with the same challenging problems, financial pressures, unmet expectations, and painful family relationships. As the business of our lives slows, there’s nothing to distract from the pain and loss. The season of joy can turn into a time of hopelessness. One study found that 45% of respondents dreaded this festive season.
If you find yourself there, I encourage you to read and meditate on Psalm 103:1-5. It starts off in an unusual way with David talking to himself. He speaks to his own soul, the seat of the emotions, and says, “Praise the Lord, my soul.” Still stuck in the doldrums, he repeats in verse 2, “Praise the Lord my soul and forget not all his benefits.” When we feel emotionally down, it’s often because we’ve forgotten the incredible blessings our God has lavished on us. In the next three verses he gives 4 benefits to fix our minds on.
First, He forgives all our sin. The word sin literally means to miss the mark. I don’t know about you, but I’ve completely missed the bull’s eye too many times to count. When I wasn’t missing the bull’s eye, I was shooting for the wrong target. The key word here is “all”. Every sin is forgiven and forgotten by the one who matters most. Remember the amazing words of Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Second, He heals your diseases. Looking back over 2017, were you ever sick? A couple of years ago I had the flu, and thought I’d never recover. My sides ached from lying in bed, but I had no strength to get up. I went to the doctor, and took the medications, but I give God all the credit for healing me. Each time we’re healed it’s a gift of grace. More importantly, God heals our spiritual diseases. Remember Naaman the leper? Worse than the leprosy eating his flesh, was the disease of pride eating at his heart. As he humbled himself and bathed in the river his inner man was made new.
Third, He redeems your life from the pit. In 2017 did you find yourself saying, “Man, this is the pits!”? Maybe it was your marriage, career, friendships, finances, or family. Pits have a few things in common. There’s no way of escape. They’re dark, and lonely. In the hit TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire there were “life-lines” for the stuck contestant. The most popular one was to phone a friend. In our deepest pits there’s no friend to phone. We fall into pits when we wander from God’s path, but also because our enemies push us into them. But, when no one was around to help, God reached down and pulled us from our life pit. The end became a new beginning. Our grave became a resurrection.
Looking back, how has God turned your pits into opportunities for praise? As Joseph was pulled from his pit and brought into the palace, how has God redeemed your life and crowned you with love and compassion? Let’s give praise for the promise that God works all things, even the pits, for our good.
Fourth, He satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles. The bald eagle has a wing span of up to 8 feet. With its lazar sharp eyes, it can see a fish from a mile away. It’s talons are 10 times stronger than the human hand and can squeeze at 400 pounds per square inch.
As God meets our desires with his good things, our inner man will soar with the strength of an eagle. That means that as we grow older in our physical bodies, or spiritual man can experience continual renewal. Our love for the Lord can burn stronger and brighter the older we become. We don’t have to become popsicles and “momsicles” for Jesus. Our happiest and most fruitful days in the Lord are ahead. We can find ourselves like Caleb in Joshua 14:11 saying at age 80, “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” Caleb then made this amazing statement as an octogenarian, “Give me the hill country.”
This Christmas, let’s put Psalm 103 into practice. In this season of reflection, don’t meditate on what you don’t have. Remember all your benefits and bless the Lord. What sins has he forgiven? What diseases has he healed? What pits has he pulled you from? What good things has he blessed you with to renew your strength? Bless him for all of this and more and your soul will be happy in him.