shattered ornamentI’m not sure about you, but around here the holidays have been a little nerve-wracking so far. Last week, just about the time I handed the roofer his (gulp) check, the heating and air conditioning van turned the corner to rescue our dying furnace. Later that afternoon, while I was busy exchanging one of my favorite ornaments for a hundred shards of glass on the hardwood floor, I heard a distant “MOM!” in that I need you right now and it’s not good kind of way. Backing out of the garage, it seemed that one of my kids had accidentally pulled the bumper off her car, taking the front wheel of a mountain bike along for the ride. I held my little girl close and whispered in her ear those three small words I save for very special occasions, Don’t tell daddy. It was right about then I got a call from radiology with results from my latest MRI; there were a few “suspicious areas” that needed a “second look.” Surprise, your cancer might be back. Fa la la la lots of stress.

If this sounds at all familiar, if your holidays have been more hectic than holy, if you’ve received moretangled-christmas-lights chaos than Christmas cards, don’t worry, we’re in good company. The first Christmas was stressful, too. A few thousand years ago a young couple with a baby on the way was forced to move miles away from their home and all of their friends. After a long, undoubtedly uncomfortable trip they arrived at their destination, not knowing a soul in a crowded, unfamiliar city. They wandered, virtually lost: an extremely pregnant first-time mom about to give birth with no doctor or family to help and her fiance, a desperate young man unable to secure a safe place to stay. Now that’s stress.

Good thing stress is our Lord’s specialty. Lucky for us He alone has a knack for taking a bad situation, and somehow, supernaturally bringing good from it. When we find ourselves in one of those places, one of those situations that make us wonder what in the world is happening (and why, for that matter, is it happening to me), God says, I have a way. Like the lonely woman completely distraught over a speeding ticket and winds up sitting next to her future husband in traffic school, or the rich guy who loses his business on a bad deal only to find the peace he’s been seeking for years, the Lord knows our unique path and the reasons behind each bump, curve, twist and turn. Only He has the power, if we seek Him, to intervene, to work, to shape and to use those twists and turns for our good. And His.

ornamentsGod brought good from bad on that silent night long ago. Jesus was born into a hectic world in worrisome circumstances. From that messy situation, we received a Savior. He brought good from bad when that baby grew up, was unfairly persecuted and suffered for our sins on a cross. From that awful circumstance, came the hope of salvation for all who believe. And He still brings good from bad today. I don’t know what positive outcome will come from our home repair bills, a broken ornament, a secret car crash, or my journey with cancer, but He does. And that thought is giving my holidays just the ho ho hope it needs.