Comfort and Joy at a Time Like This? (Embracing the embrace)

It was still dark—I guessed it was around six o’clock. I’m talking about last Monday morning. I had been fully awake for at least an hour. I could faintly hear the sound of rain outside along with the white noise of the fan on low in the corner. I laid there and prayed and pondered the day. I had been to the washroom once and was contemplating a second trip, when my husband Chris, half asleep, reached over and pulled me close to him. In one smooth and effortless move, just like that, I was gripped by his strong arm and enveloped in the warmth of his body.

I embraced the embrace and I made a conscience effort to let go of all the thoughts about the day swirling around in my brain. I focused on Chris’ deep breathing and was reminded of the many nights I laid awake in the dark hanging on to my late husband Michael’s every breath. I was also reminded of God’s strong grip of grace that I came to know extremely well during those days… during the late sleepless nights… and early dark mornings. 

I give credit to God’s strong grip of grace for the comfort I felt and even joy amongst the sorrow of facing the devastating affects of Mike’s terminal illness, ALS. As Mike’s breathing became less and less, I often barely breathed myself, and that’s when I felt God’s grip of grace the most.

So here is the question of the day, can we experience comfort and joy whatever comes our way? If Mike could in the face of death, if I could while I watched him take his last breath, the answer is yes! An affirmative answer made possible for each one of us who trust God and accept His Son of Hope and Love—Jesus!

The thoughts above bring to my mind, this very old yet relevant Christmas carol:

God rest ye merry gentlemen

Let nothing you dismay,

Remember Christ our Savior

Was born on Christmas Day,

To save us all from Satan’s pow’r

When we were gone astray.

Oh tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy

Oh tidings of comfort and joy.

While writing this I asked Chris if he experienced a stronger grip of God’s grace when his late wife Heather passed away. He said that her passing brought the greatest sorrow he’s ever known, but he was so happy for her—to be set free from cancer and in Jesus’ everlasting arms. His answer to my question was yes.

Fear not then, said the Angel

Let nothing you affright,

This day is born a Savior

Of a pure virgin bright,

To free all those who trust in Him

From Satan’s pow’r and might.

Oh tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy

Oh tidings of comfort and joy

It’s been a week now since that rainy Monday I started thinking about this comfort and joy story. During that time, Chris and I have both had a family member die – Chris’ aunt/Godmother Anne, and my father-in-law George (Mike’s dad). We also have a few friends who have also had dear loved ones pass. It’s a reminder that even though Christmas is considered the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be the most difficult—the most grievous. Add Covid to the picture and for some, the stress, grief, fear and loneliness makes it so much worse. So it’s also a good reminder to be kinder, more gentle and patient with ourselves and each other.

If you feel like you are carrying burdens bigger than you can handle, or even God can handle, remember there is nothing too big for Him. Put your trust in Him whatever comes your way. Sometimes it’s not until we look back, that we can see, we were being held all along in His firm grip of grace… When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. Isaiah 43:2

Chris and I hope and pray that you experience rest and peace, comfort and joy this Christmas season. We encourage you to look to the Saviour born on Christmas Day! There is no better time than now to embrace His embrace and find everything you need in His strong grip of mercy, love and grace.

In loving memory of George Sands.

Mike’s dad, George pushing Mike in his wheel chair at the Walk for ALS in 2012.

I leave you with a happy 2020 story. While this year has been a rough year for many people (to say the least); for some Malawians, it’s been the best year ever! My sister Elanna and I were all set to go to Malawi, Africa with our dad and Chris in March (I told this story back then). We were even at the airport when we had to turn around and go home. Regardless of being grounded, Dad (Project Wellness) was still able to have 10 wells drilled in Malawi this year. The most wells drilled in one year for Project Wellness! We are so proud of our dad and grateful for our amazing donors! Check out projectwellness.ca to learn more and/or to make a donation.

A photo I’ve shared before:
buckets lined up at my mom’s memorial well.
November 22 was the four year
anniversary of her passing.
No pictures of Dad in Malawi this year but here are a few recent ones of him looking good and having fun making
paper snowflakes.

Now to the Lord sing praises,

All you within this place,

And with true love and brotherhood

Each other now embrace;

This holy tide of Christmas

All other doth efface.

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy.

Merry Christmas! Much love and God bless!

The first three photos are from our hunt for the perfect tree last year. This year, we didn’t take our time because of the lineup of cars waiting to get into the tree farm (meaning I only got a couple of shots, not the usual dozens).
Books make great Christmas gifts. Find mine here: https://nadinesands.com/my-books/

If you missed my last blog post, check it out here: Be Like a Tree and Let Go

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4 Responses

  1. Such a timely message! Thank you for reminding us how kindness and hope go a long way especially with God’s loving embrace every step of the way ❤️

  2. Nadine , your words are so perfect for this time in my life and I thank you for them . I think of you often and always remember your beautiful smile . Best wishes for comfort and joy . Merry Christmas to you and your whole family .
    Smiles Cheryl 🌲xo

    1. Hi Cheryl, how nice to hear from you. Thank you for the lovely comment. I think of you and remember how you make everyone smile, and laugh. A gift indeed! Merry Christmas! xo

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