During this holiday season we are reminded of the love that came down from heaven and sacrificed everything on earth for us so that we can be forgiven and live forever with God in fullness of joy. After 2000+ years we are still celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world.

When I think about what Jesus endured and how He was treated by the establishment and yet continued to love, it is incredible to me. And my next thought is often, “well He is God so of course He can do the impossible.” And yet God says that when we receive Jesus into our hearts, we also receive His power through the Holy Spirit to do all the things He calls us to do and that He actually lives in us. According to Scripture, with the Holy Spirit living in us and direct access to the Father through Jesus Christ, we can do the seemingly impossible. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move.”

Thinking about my life, immediately I go to the things around me that I would like to “move” or change; difficult circumstances that cause stress, uncooperative people in my family, almost everything I hear on the news, and the pains of living in a fallen world. But when I think of what Jesus did, I realize that it’s my heart and mind that need to change. To love sacrificially in our culture is so hard to at times! I would rather gratify my flesh, find fault with others rather than myself, and avoid whatever is uncomfortable at the time. It is only by God’s power that I can truly do what He calls me to do which is to love Him and to love others as myself, even when it’s hard.

Love is easy when I’m getting my needs met and when others (especially family members) agree with me. Take those things away and I see the actual limitations within me; negative emotion, stubbornness, judgmentalism and self-centeredness. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit can enable me to see things differently, do what I feel can’t be done or that I feel unwilling to do. That doesn’t mean agreeing with everyone or liking everything that happens. But it does mean for me to show up and stand strong in the midst of heartache or discomfort, which I can do with God’s love strengthening and empowering me. I can bear the frustration of outward circumstances, delay my own gratification and accept being out of sync with someone I love, because of the hope and comfort and love of He who is in me.

During this holiday season we all will likely have moments where we’d rather not deal with an uncomfortable situation. We’d rather check out in one way or another. Spending time with God regularly, in His Word and prayer, will strengthen us to love sacrificially for the glory of our Savior and the betterment of ourselves and others. With His love and power flowing through us we can move the mountain of whatever keeps us from fully loving Him and loving others as ourselves.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

1 John 4:4 …He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Merry Christmas!

Francine Costanza, LCPC