In 2011, SBS television had a wonderful tagline when our world’s population reached seven billion people: “There are over seven billion stories to be told”. Nine years on, and our world’s population has now surpassed 7.8 billion. This unique moment in history presents great challenges and opportunities. The issues are many: from the environment, water, energy, and availability of food, to the ongoing pressures of urbanisation and poverty. But it certainly makes me stop and think about this amazing world we live in and why Christ came – His plans and purpose, the stories, the highs and lows, the uniqueness of each individual, with everyone important and beautifully created in His image.

 

Everyone has a story

Every story is unique, each story is very real, each story is special, and each is watched lovingly and carefully by our heavenly Father. Everyone is precious in His sight. I don’t know what that does for you, but it certainly causes me to think outside my bubble – my world – and take a clearer look at the big picture, just as God does. How will you see your neighbors this Christmas? Not just overseas, but also in your own backyard?

 

Significant Change

2019 was a confronting year in Australia with tragic bushfires, drought, and floods. However, 2020 has been challenging globally, and no one has been left untouched. This year has brought with it a whole new dynamic, unfamiliar to us all.

  • COVID-19 spread rapidly around the world, claiming so many lives.
  • Countries have been consumed with finding fault, racing to discover a vaccination, and generally surviving in the face of rising infections.
  • There have been border lockdowns, school shutdowns, retirement homes closed to visitors, businesses stopped, loss of employment and the ceasing of domestic and international travel. Life as you knew it has changed completely.
  • The political stage is incredibly unstable.
  • There has been racial unrest around the world.
  • Refugee camps are overflowing; human rights are being threatened.
  • The devastating explosion in Beirut caused further havoc to Lebanon – a country already suffering from a refugee crisis, an economic crisis, hunger, and poverty.
  • And natural disasters are on the rise.

It’s hard, sometimes, to remain positive and hopeful when so much suffering is happening around us. But I am reminded of Matthew 6:33,

“ But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

Do you believe that God has the bigger picture and cares for all your needs? I do! During this time of Christmas, I want to be thankful. I want to practise gratitude, even in the face of such uncertainty.

 

Gratitude – Give God thanks

‘Gratitude’ is a fascinating word. The simple dictionary definition of gratitude is the “quality of being thankful; a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.

I was recently challenged in my home group. Life was full and busy. I was trying to settle into a night of quite bible study and worship, but we were all distracted with life’s events and the day’s bad news. And then, in walked a friend who challenged us to refocus our thinking by reflecting on and writing down the things we could thank God for. Surprisingly, the atmosphere changed. All I could hear was the scribble of pens madly writing, creating multiple lists of God’s goodness and provision through this difficult time.

There was an overflowing of gratitude for family, friends, and those God had placed in our pathway during the weeks before – even the small things were significant!

So, this is my challenge to you…

Take the time this Christmas to write your own list with your family, because God is at work in each of our stories. But don’t stop there! Seek to share His kindness with those in need. Use your story can make a difference in someone else’s. And let your gratitude overflow this Christmas, as you give generously to those in need: baptistworldaid.org.au/be-hope.