“Mom, what do you want for Christmas this year?”
Answers to that question didn’t come as readily to me as they did to the younger generation in our home. I told him I’d need some time to think that over before I could give him a response.
This year the holidays have me reflecting more than usual. With chemotherapy and doctor’s appointments taking top priority, less importance has been given to some of our typical Christmas traditions like tree trimming, card sending, and gift wrapping. It might just go down in our memory as the year with the tree with only one ornament on it.
In a conversation with a friend as I shared our current situation and the “un-done Christmas,” she implored, “Please give yourself permission to be okay with that…Please consider letting go of the expectations that you normally set up for yourself this time of year and be okay with what it is. Life for your family is in a different place than what was previously normal. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and HE desires for you to have peace in your life even in the midst of fighting cancer.”
Soon thereafter, during that same particularly difficult chemotherapy week, another friend asked, “What can I do for you? What do you need? If there is anything that I can provide, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
I thought for a few seconds before replying, “What I want and what I need aren’t tangible things, but rather, only things that God can provide.”
That night, after the rest of the family had gone to bed, I sat on the floor staring up at the Christmas tree donned with white lights and a single ornament emblazoned with the word, HOPE. How fitting is that, that the only ornament on the tree was a perfect reflection of the reason for the holiday we celebrate. Because of God’s gift to us in the birth of His son, we now have hope.
As I sat before that tree, thinking of the trials facing our family as of late, and all the things that hadn’t gotten done in preparation for Christmas, a familiar passage came to mind:
“Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. THEN you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
In the past when I read that passage, I had always focused on the not worrying part, and thanking him. But in that moment, when what I wanted more than anything was peace for my family and peace for my heart, what jumped out at me was God’s command to tell him what we need.
It was a challenge, to be sure, but he was imploring me not to worry, but instead, in prayer, to tell Him what I needed, just as my son and friends had asked me to do, and then thank Him for what He has done. That was the key to peace not just this Christmas, but all year through.
I had already shared with a friend that what I most needed was something only God could provide. Now He was beckoning me to ask. That became my “grown up Christmas wish list:”
For My Husband:
We believe that he has been healed of his cancer—I want him to see the physical manifestation of that healing. I want him to know in a deeper way how much God and I love him, not for what he does but because of whose He is. I want him to have the desire of his heart, to find his voice and to share with others what God has done for him.
For My Children:
I want them to know that despite all the things we didn’t do or couldn’t provide this Christmas, that the choices we made were because they are a priority to us. I want them to have a spiritual family legacy that they can be proud of, learn from, and pass on to their own children. I want them to know who they are in Christ and walk in it, using all the gifts, talents, tools, and weapons God has already given them. I want them to know that when storms come (and they will!), to stand on the firm foundation and always stay focused on the One who calms the storms. I want them to know that their father and I love them very much, but they have a Heavenly Father who loves them enough that He sent His son to die for them and now walks with them every day. And I want Him to guide them on the path He has individually for each of them.
For My Friends:
I want you to know the depth of my gratitude for weeping with us when we weep, and rejoicing with us when we rejoice, and that I want to do the same for you. I want you to know that it is my desire to walk alongside you in ministry and in life, and to pray with you and for you, expectant for how the Lord will answer. I want your days of laughter to be much more plentiful than your days of tears. I want you to experience the depth of the hope that prevails because of Him.
For My Patients:
I want you to know that you are cared for and that your well-being is my top priority. I want you to experience something different when you walk through the doors of my office—I want you to experience Christ’s love. I wish for a cure for cancer, dementia, autism, stroke, and all the other illnesses that plague you and bring you to see me, but more than that I want you to encounter my Jesus, The One True Healer. I pray you will experience His saving light in your dark places. I want more than anything for you to know that because of Him, Hope Prevails!
I want to know Him more through the trials we are enduring. I want to love my husband better through his courageous cancer journey. I want more doors to open for me to be a light pointing others to His kingdom. I want to better comfort others with the comfort He has extended to us. I want to share the Hope that I know to the very core of my being prevails because of Him, despite our earthly circumstances. I want to ultimately hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Each of these wishes may look a little different, and take a slight variation, but when we get right down to it, they all amount to the same thing. This Christmas and all throughout the year, all I want is a little more of Jesus.
I don’t know what you are wishing for this Christmas, whether it’s tangible, physical, relational, or emotional. But He wants to hear it from you, and what a joy to know there is a safe place to come and share our inner-most desires. And as we thank Him for the answers, He promises peace to guard our hearts and minds. My prayer for you this Christmas is that instead of worrying, you’ll bring your needs to Him, thank Him for all He has done, is doing, and will do, and then enjoy the peace that comes from Him.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: http://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.