Tragedies caused by Covid-19 can certainly be called one of life’s crushing loads. As of this morning, more than 1,700,000 people have died around the world. I estimate that for each one, at least fifty family members and friends are grieving. That number comes to 85,000,000 people mourning those deaths. That’s probably a low figure, and it will continue to grow.

Add to that financial disasters to businesses and employees, the enormous emotional and physical toll on first responders and healthcare workers, and people being evicted from their homes.

Add to that the isolation so many are experiencing from families at Thanksgiving and Christmas, teachers exhausted as they teach online instead of in person, and students struggling to keep up with their lessons.

Add to that careworn parents trying to work from home and supervise kids and help them with their schoolwork—all at the same time. Families are struggling financially because breadwinners have lost their jobs. Thousands every day wait in line for food. Others have enormous medical bills. Those recovering from the virus can have long-term health issues, making it difficult for them to get back on their feet.

And doctors and scientists are concerned over a sometimes-deadly syndrome related to Covid-19 which effects children’s “heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, digestive system, brain, skin or eyes

Now there’s news that the coronavirus has mutated in England, and probably has reached other nations as well, and that the new strain spreads much more quickly than we’ve seen so far.

And that just scratches the surface when it comes to Covid-19.

In addition, in recent months our nation has experienced political unrest, violence in streets, racial tensions, and significant disagreements among Christian denominations.

That’s a lot of heartache to bear.

And I’m sure you’ll agree: All of this has added an element of sadness to this Christmas season.

In my family, we have our own layers of sadness, but really: We have little to complain about compared to millions of families that have many more problems than we do.

I ran across this artwork (see photo below) in an antique Christmas book and its caption took my breath away. “Ye, beneath life’s crushing load,” words from the beloved song, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”

The words are so familiar to me—I’ve sung the song for as long as I can remember.

But this year, those words take on deeper meaning. I’m glad they caught my attention and jostled my heart and made me care more deeply.

Sometimes we want to block out the grimness of a time like this—we desperately want to ease our pain. We grab hold of distractions like Christmas parties and movies and music and decorations and gift-giving.

And yet, it’s good to step aside from our giddy Christmas festivities to pray for those suffering around us, in our nation, and around the world—those staggering beneath life’s crushing load.

But let’s go beyond that—let’s remember the suffering and sadness we have experienced in the past, and let’s remember the ways God stuck with us and got us through to the other side of the pain.

Rememberthe people He used, the Bible verses, the sermons, the stories He used to minister to us and keep us from going under.

Let’s always remember the good God brought to us within our past heartaches and sufferings. And then let’s comfort others with the comfort He has given us (1 Corinthians 1:3-4). How? By telling them our stories

“Listen to your life,” wrote Frederick Buechner. “See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy andhidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” (Frederick Buechner, Now and Then

Marlene Bagnull wrote, “I discovered the answers he [God] had given me could be a source of help and reassurance to others who asked‘How Much Longer, Lord?’ . . . I sensed the most difficult things for me to share could be the very words someone else needed to read.” (Marlene Bagnull, Write His Answer

Which people did God use to comfort you when you were staggering beneath life’s crushing load? Thank God for them, (and thank them, too, if you can). Then pass it onShare your stories with others.

Search your mind and heart for stories you need to include in your memoir, stories that will bless and encourage readers.

You don’t know what’s in the futureyou can’t know now what will be happening in the lives of your kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, and all the others who will someday read your memoir

Right now you can’t know what crushing loads your readers will be carrying

But this is what you can do right now: Ask God to help you remember the good He brought out of your past heartaches and disasters. Dig deeply, layer by layer, and find the gems. Connect the dots

Spend timerecalling specifics of your situation,

Bible verses that made a difference,

God’s answer to prayers,

and people who loved you and stuck by your side.

And then, ask God to help you write your stories

Ask Him to use them to give others

courage and hope and faith,

stories that will help them persevere

beneath life’s crushing load

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