Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
She grabbed the gift with a quick “Thank you!” Tore off the wrapping paper. Stopped. Stared.
Then, she began to pout.
She didn’t know exactly what to expect as a grade school exchange gift. But surely, it would be something more exciting than the book “The Birds of America.”
That’s why she began to pout.
Except for the song about Santa Claus coming to town, we don’t hear the word pout used much today. When it is, it probably refers to a child that is pouting. That’s understandable.
After all, pouting is childish.
People pout when they are disappointed and annoyed. Their faces show it. Those around them know it. Pouting people are not pleasant company.
Yet, there seems to be many of them around today.
America endured a Thanksgiving under the stress of a pandemic. Family gatherings were curtailed. Long-held traditions went by the wayside. People wondered, “Why can’t it be like years ago?”
It appears this Christmas will be no different—maybe even worse. Jobs are being lost. More businesses closing. We fear it’s the future that will be frightful, not just the weather. Jolly does not seem to be in the picture. Good tidings of great joy appear to be missing.
Are not those legitimate reasons for people to be downcast and disturbed? Are Advent and Christmas 2020 not a time for pouting?
It’s an opportunity for praising.
The answers to the problems in life cannot be found inside of us or in a box tied with ribbons. Instead of a cure for what ails us, the world offers only the equivalent of band-aids and candy. Its help is limited. The situation seems hopeless.
But it isn’t. The psalmist bids us to, “Put your hope in God!”
More than 2,000 years ago, God gave the world his Christmas gift. It was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
Excited shepherds hurried to see the gift for themselves. They were not disappointed. They were filled with joy and spread the good news.
Through the inspired Word of God, the whole world has been invited to look into that manger.
Some ask: “Is that all there is? Is this God’s answer to grief and pain, to injustice and shame, to death and hell?”
The answer is: “It is.”
Then, many reply: “It’s not good enough. This is only a feeble baby who grew up to be a failure. He was abandoned by his followers and executed as a criminal. There must be something better.”
There is not. There isn’t anything better in all of creation in all the epochs of time. This one, born as a baby, is the answer to every need and the source of every joy.
How sad that so many turn away from that manger in disappointment.
But not the psalmist. Not us. This is the Christ—the Life of all the living. This is my Savior and my God.
I will yet praise him.
I will not pout.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask that you open the eyes of those who will look upon the scene of Christmas that you have preserved for us. Enable them to see the wonder and glory. Lift up their hearts. Fill them with joy and praise. You were the world’s only help in ages past. You are the only hope for years to come. You are our Savior and our God. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.