Swedish meatballs! I was up to my elbows in them. Meticulously following the recipe passed down from my Swedish grandmother. Mom called our holiday meal a smorgasbord. Swedish meatballs have graced our table every Christmas Eve since I can remember. Some traditions are worth keeping. Especially the edible ones.
As I worked my fingers through the messy mixture, Christmas music played softly in the background. Childhood memories flooded my heart. I had watched my mother do this many times, and it had also become my labor of love. All the holiday preparations brought joy to my heart. Feeling overly nostalgic, I stopped working in the kitchen to scan through my inbox. My first mistake of the day! What I saw rocked my world, attacking my festive mood and draining any joy I had lavished in moments earlier. Still I read on.
The email was filled with ugly accusations and lies. The writer was bent on retaliation, throwing unkind words at me like little knives. Each one piercing my heart. I couldn’t believe the cruelty and felt the need to counteract the lies. I wrote my response over and over in my head. I wanted to rant and rave but felt a gentle restraint. Better to keep the matter to myself. And I didn’t want to ruin the spirit of the day for others. Overwhelmed by my accuser, I had one option…prayer.
After printing off my accuser’s words, I spread the pages out before the Lord. I remembered a king in the Bible who had done the same thing after receiving a threatening letter. It was there on my knees I got strength to make it through the day. I got a clearer perspective. Prayer changed me as I sensed a better plan than my flesh was suggesting. His way higher than mine.
“Don’t argue. Don’t justify. Don’t respond.” I guess it was a time to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He says He will fight our battles when we look to Him for help. He was my very present help in time of trouble.
It wasn’t an easy battle. The letter hung over me like a dark cloud on a rainy day. The enemy was bent on stealing my joy. I drudged through the holidays with a heavy heart, replaying the letter constantly in my head. I knew better but this was a real battle for me.
The conflict didn’t resolve overnight. In fact, it took several months to work through it. Prayer kept me from making a difficult situation even worse. I’m thankful the Lord heard my cry. Thankful He restrained my response. The situation was too much for me. But nothing is ever too much for God.
Psalm 20:1 “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.”
2 Kings 19:14-19 “Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord.
And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: O Lord, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.
Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”
Questions to consider:
1. What did King Hezekiah do with the threatening letter from the enemy king?
2. What encourages you in these verses?
3. Have you ever needed to spread a matter out before the Lord? What resulted?
4. What does Hezekiah hope will happen when God delivers them from the enemy’s hand?
The Lord gives us all things to enjoy, especially Christmas celebrations. Yet the enemy of our souls wants to steal our joy. Pray about any irritations and hurtful words that may come your way this season. I love the words of Corrie ten Boom: “Prayer is the key for the day; the lock for the night.” So take all those “joy-stealers” to the Lord and have a Merry Christmas.