Christmas's Unexpected Changes

Saturday, December 17, 2022
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Listen while you read: "Joy To The World"1 (Lyrics)

Luke 24:16 – But God kept them from recognizing him. (NLT)

The news stung like a hornet against bare skin.

For thirteen years, my wife and I celebrated Christmas with our two children on Christmas Day. We considered it a sacred tradition, and we thought that they did, too. We loved watching them — and later their children — open the gifts that we had purchased for them. But then, we got the news.

Around the middle of November one year, our daughter texted to let us know that she was rearranging the Christmas calendar. She would celebrate Christmas with us not on Christmas Day, but another day. Going from house to house was just too hectic. She wanted Christmas Day to be only her and her two boys. The news crushed us, but we understood. We would have to face unexpected Christmas changes.

That's when I suggested a change of my own. Since neither of our children would be visiting on Christmas Day, we would head to our favourite place: the Great Smokey Mountains — Pigeon Forge, to be exact.

Jewish believers also encountered an unexpected change in the first century. The birth of the Messiah didn't happen in the way that they expected. He didn't arrive on a gallant white steed to run off their Roman oppressors. Instead, He was birthed by a young unmarried teenager and laid in a manger. Many didn't recognize Him because of this unexpected change — unexpected for them, but not for God.

The holiday season often brings changes that we don't expect — or want. A loved one passes away during the year, and we have to celebrate without them. An empty place resides at the table. An accident causes debilitating injuries and changes the way that we celebrate the holidays. A child moves away to college or takes a job in a state or province far away, perhaps even overseas. Arguments occur. Tempers flare. Anger and misunderstanding erupt. Unforgiveness sneaks in.

The only constant about change is that change always happens, whether we enjoy it or not. We often can't prevent it, but we can adapt and move on, which is what my wife and I did.

Whether or not we enjoy the changes that Christmas throws our way, let us remember the real reason for the celebration: Jesus' birth and our salvation. Let's allow the joy of that event to overshadow any other pain that we may face — and have a merry Christmas!

Prayer: Father, give us eyes to see Your guidance, even in the unexpected changes of life. Amen.

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About the author:

Martin Wiles <>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    That’s so good. Thankyou.
    It helped me.

    How timely! Thank you for your sharing. Christmas blessings.

    Change is painful – we go to prayer to help us understand and accept.

    Amen Martin. May your Christmas be merry and bright in the light of His love, wherever you are!

    Good morning, Martin,
    Thank you so much for this devotional and for all your devotionals throughout the year. Have a blessed Christmas.

    Thank you, Martin. Today is very tough day, in fact the worst, for our family. So your words were comforting and made the burden seem a bit lighter.
    Again many thanks for this devotional and all the others you have shared.

    Merry Christmas Martin and family
    Wow, this one hit home, since my husband passed away in the spring and your words and prayer is definitely what it is all about and helps us get through, not only Christmas but every day!
    God bless.

    When I first read this, I instantly thought of my similar experiences. When my husband and I married, we each had two children. Mine were younger, his were already married. Once mine moved out of the house and into the military, we rarely had Christmas with family as they were all so scattered. And, like you, we moved on and celebrated Christmas for its own worth.

    Merci Martin,
    “Let’s allow the joy of that event to overshadow any other pain that we may face.”
    This is a beneficial choice. After reading this sentence and reflecting on the insight to deliberately permit joy to permeate, it was remembered how Martin Luther King Jr. Invoked a similar notion. “…when we allow freedom ring — when we let it ring …

    Thanks Martin. We lost our younger son very recently with a loving wife and two teenage sons. Our daughter-in-law, had also recently lost her Dad.
    Right now, my husband and I are driving to take part in his Celebration of Life.
    Your writing is solace. Thanks for this blessing,
    (BC Canada)

    Greetings Martin and many thanks for your devotional today. Yes, changes in our lives do happen and when they happen at Christmas they really stick in our mind as it is such a special time of the year remembering the birth of Jesus. When I was 13yrs old my Mom died before Christmas and that change still comes to mind even after all these years. May you and your wife enjoy a blessed Christmas this year and the Lord continue to encourage you to do these special writings you submit.

    So very true Martin. My wife and I each had two children from previous marriages when we married. Relations between step siblings can be difficult at times. We no longer know who will join us, but as you say, the celebration goes on. Hurts however that differences can’t be set aside for one day.
    Pigeon Forge, awesome. What a beautiful part of Tennessee.
    Wishing you a blessed Christmas and the very best in 2023.

    Good morning, Martin,
    What a really great message we all need to hear at many times in our lives. A Christmas we have expectations of others which are not realistic and having some understanding really does improve the situation.
    Thanks for sharing and relating it to how the Jewish people felt about Jesus coming as a baby and not someone who would remove the Roman occupation of their land.
    May you enjoy Christmas whatever unfolds this year and continue to share with others your strong faith. Merry Christmas.

    Oh Martin, as I read your devotional today, I have tears. So many memories, so many changes, sometimes hard to accept. You sound like you are handling those changes better than I am. I didn’t lose my loved one of over 50 years at Christmas, but on Easter Sunday, just as tear jerking, as Easter moves around the calendar so do my thoughts, in church on Easter Sunday. As I reflect on this many years later, what a blessing for everyone, but it still jerks at the heartstrings as Easter moves around the calendar.
    I want to say thank you for your meaningful devotional and say even when it is a special day in the calendar or not a special day in the calendar, God is always there. Have a blessed Sunday and a Merry Christmas.

    Martin, this is such a touching devotional! Your positive outlook will comfort so many readers, facing similar changes.

    Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.

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