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“And in that region, there were shepherds out in the field keeping watch over their flocks by night.” - Luke 2:8
While listening to the sermon titled “Anger Management”, I reflected on my commitment to write a devotion for advent. I thought about the shepherds and wondered if they felt good about this important job or if they were angry that they had to be there – alone, in the cold, watching over silly sheep. Had they willingly accepted this responsibility to risk their lives for the sheep, or would they rather have been carpenters or brick layers? And what about Mary, giving birth in a dirty, probably smelly, stable, far from home, her mother or other supportive women? Was she angry that she was put in this position she had not chosen?
When we find ourselves alone, in places and circumstances not of our choosing, are we angry at those who put us there, perhaps even at God for not preventing it? Never-the-less, God is there with us. He will lend us His strength and give us opportunities to grow and develop new skills as part of the special plan He has for each of us.
As we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth, take a moment to sit in silence and let the peace and love of God enfold you. The message of Christmas and Easter is one of hope. God’s love can transform even the most difficult challenges into something wonderful. Isiah reminds us that “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not be faint” (40:31).
Heavenly Father, we thank you for reminding us that you are always with us, even in the dark or lonely times. Help us to see the challenges of our lives as opportunities to grow in your love and to refine those unique gifts you have given us. Help us to joyfully share these gifts with others in your service.