The Night Beau Corrected The Preacher

By John J. Duncan Jr.

My oldest grandchild, Beau, is 19 now and is a freshman at U.T. He has made very good grades, worked at part-time jobs, and has become a very good and kind young man.

However, he shocked me once during the children’s sermon at a Christmas Eve service at Eastminster Presbyterian Church.

The minister, Sean White, said “Boys and girls, like the song says, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.”

Beau, who was probably only about seven or eight years old, piped up and said “It is not the most wonderful time – it is the happ, happ, happiest time!”

And Christmas is a happy, joyful time for most people. Yet the psychiatrists and psychologists say that it also can be a very depressing time for many.

During my 46 years as a lawyer, judge and congressman, I have had many, many people come to me for help for every kind of problem, and many problems that would surprise you.

While life is filled with far more good times than bad, I can assure you that everybody gets hurt by life, and I do mean everybody.

If you look around at a restaurant some time and knew the full story of everyone there, you probably wouldn’t want to trade places with any of them.

I have spoken to many youth groups and have told them that while life is filled with a lot more good times than bad, you need to work on your faith, especially during the good times so that you will be prepared for the tough times that hit us all.

If you are going through a difficult time now, and even if your faith is very weak, I think it is helpful to read the Bible and get down on your knees to pray.

The most encouraging passage for me has been the 34th Psalm and especially verse six: “This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.”

Verse 17 is similar: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” The next verse says, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart…”

Romans 12:12 says we should always be “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.”

Joshua 1:9 says: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Isaiah 41:10 says: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you…”

Jeremiah 29:11-13: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.”

I Peter 5:6-7 says: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

James 4:10 is similar: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” It is clear that you have to have at least a little humility to have faith in God.

One of the most hopeful verses in the Bible is John 15:7: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

All of us get impatient at times, and this is certainly one of my many faults. Isaiah 40:31 says: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

It is impossible to determine who is the smartest person in the world, but if we could, that person would have to admit his or her knowledge is just an infinitesimal speck of all the knowledge out there.

We will never fully understand why bad things happen to good people – our understanding will never be sufficient. But your life will be better if you follow Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Because I now have loved ones in Heaven, Exodus 23:20 is very meaningful to me: “Behold, I send an angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.”

Finally, the most hopeful words from the wonderful 23rd Psalm are: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

I hope you can attend a Christmas Eve service, and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.