During this time of year, I tend to think of the many challenges this holiday season brings to so many people. You may have lost a loved one this past year or you may find yourself alone and spending Christmas away from the one you love and long for. During these times, I find comfort and encouragement in my faith and God’s promises.

One of the scriptures that I lean on during this time of year is, “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” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The holidays are a joyous time and something many people look forward to; however, it is important to not lose sight of the blessings and missions that brought us this far. We must choose to reflect and trust that everything is part of our story – even the challenging times.

Someone asked me about the Christmas traditions in our family. For the last 34 years our family has celebrated Christmas at our vacation home in Montana. Spending time in the snow and enjoying the beauty of the snow-covered mountains are a few of the things I look forward to. Being in Big Sky, Montana, fills my heart with the wonder of God’s creation and the beauty of my surroundings. Our Christmas tree, which stays up year-round, stands ready to welcome all the presents that will be placed under it during the Christmas season. The ornaments hanging from the tree represent so many great memories that my family and I cherish. 

All of that changed in October of 2017. I fell in the parking lot of a hotel in Dallas. It wasn’t until December that doctors found I had bleeding on the brain from that fall two months prior. We were given a few options for treatment. Surgery seemed to be the best choice for me. Although that also meant I would miss the holiday traditions I looked forward to all year. I knew that the Lord had a plan.

The surgery was a success and the recovery took several months of therapy, but the results are definitive—God was clearly not finished writing my story! Although we missed our Christmas with family in Montana last year, we can now look forward to another year of our Christmas traditions in 2018.

We often think that God is too busy to care about our every thought and action, but that simply is not true. Our Father in heaven loves us and cares deeply about us in every way. When we come to Him in prayer, we find that our prayers may not be answered immediately. God’s promises are clear, and His timing is perfect. In Hebrews 13:5 God assures us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He is always listening, and He cares for us with an everlasting love.

Whatever your family situation is, I hope you can make traditions a priority. You and your loved ones will find comfort and meaning in them for years to come.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).

Jack Countryman is the founder of JCountryman® Gift Books, a division of Thomas Nelson, and the recipient of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Jordan Lifetime Achievement Award. Over the past 30 years, he has developed bestselling gift books such as God’s Promises® for Your Every Need, God’s Promises® for Men, God’s Promises® for Women, God Listens,and Red Letter Words of Jesus. Countryman’s books have sold more than 20 million units.