A long email arrived from a discouraged woman. Like many during this festive feasting season, she’d been losing the battle of the bulge; and this after a year of successful weight loss. Using a faith-based lifestyle of discipline and activity, she had shed 48 pounds but had now quickly added 13.
What caused this gain of unwanted pounds and her feeling of failure? She says it all started with eating one or two M&Ms.
How do you comfort a person whose discipline has been decimated by such a tiny transgression? I chose to contact her immediately, complimenting her on her successes.
She is still 35 pounds lighter than a year ago. Why not focus on her achievements instead of her recent lapse of control?
Now her email assured me that this one whose confidence had been crushed by two small pieces of candy was already back on track. She was planning to talk to her pastor about starting a group in her church for others who need to learn that God cares about every part of our lives and will enable us to achieve what is best for us.
Clashes of faith and doubt, positives and negatives, confront us continually. This was brought to my attention recently in an article titled “Where is Peace?” written by our son, Timothy, who, along with myriad other responsibilities, edits a newspaper. See if you can identify with his story of a late night journey from perplexity to peace:
“This old world we call home seems at times to be little more than a ‘ball of confusion,’ spinning evermore out of control day by day. War, famine, drought and disease monopolize the international news while our domestic headlines decry a culture of violent crime, greed, hedonism and family dysfunction and dissolution.
“A few weeks back, I stood out in the paddock praying and unwinding with my horse as he enjoyed a late dinner of Equine Senior and a few carrots. My thoughts were on the ever turbulent situation in the Middle East and I lamented with Jeremiah, “‘Peace, peace,’ they say, ‘but there is no peace.’”
“And then on the northern horizon I saw in all their splendor, Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, something of a rarity at our latitude. To the east, a meteorite streaked the night sky and I was overcome with the peace of knowing the ‘Lord of Heaven and Earth.’”
Henry W. Longfellow faced a similar quandary over the “peace on earth” of the Christmas message and the reality of a violent and unjust world. In his enduring carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” he describes his inner conflict over the apparent contradiction and his ultimate, comforting conclusion:
“And in despair, I bowed my head: There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”
“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: God is not dead: nor doth He sleep,
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.”
From weight problems to world political crises, we need never despair. Christmas says God loves us, every one. And the miracle of the nativity negates negativism; promising personal peace through faith, and finally, good will to men.
Roger Campbell was an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. An anthology containing over one hundred of his best columns, “Everywhere You Go There’s a Zacchaeus Up a Tree,” is a great gift and available at your local or online bookseller. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook @YOURFAITHADVENTURE.