A 15-Day Christmas Devotional for an Untraditional Year

Jay Holland

Host of Let's Parent on Purpose

All things for good

2020 has been a challenging year for us as parents. But I doubt anything will ever top 2014 in the Holland household.

In April of 2014, we were in the midst of adopting our special needs foster daughter when we learned that our five-year-old son, Elijah, had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The best way I can describe our year is that we lived in a tornado in the midst of a hurricane. I don’t know how to explain how we survived the year except to say that Jesus carried us.

By midsummer, Elijah had developed an allergy to one of the ten chemo drugs they were giving him. He was supposed to have five more IV injections of that particular drug. The replacement would now require sixty injections by large needles in his thigh muscles: two injections per day, every other day, from November through January.

Each injection burned; then came the nausea and vomiting. Nothing echoes “creation groans” like watching your bald little boy scream from pain at the fiery needle plunging into his leg muscles.

Around Thanksgiving, I asked Elijah, “We always talk about how Jesus will take bad things and make good from them. Is there a way we could try to take the bad from these shots and do something good?”

Our family had been involved with an orphans ministry in India called Hopegivers. Elijah asked if we could try to help the orphans.

We created Elijah’s Chemo Orphan Challenge, inviting people to give one dollar for every injection he would receive. Suddenly, every painful visit to the hospital had a purpose. God moved, and, by the end, Elijah had raised nearly $20,000 to care for orphans in India.

Three years later, after his last chemo dose, we took a family trip to India and spent Christmas with the orphans. One of my all-time favorite memories is dancing with my healed son, orphans, and a skinny local man dressed in a shaggy Santa outfit on Christmas Eve.

Romans 8:28 tells us that “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (NIV).

Not all things are good. But for the lovers of Jesus, our Father works all things for our good. And I believe the ultimate good is found in verse 29: “For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (NIV). The ultimate good is the reality that God is making us like Jesus.

Don’t lose heart.

You are not alone, not forgotten.

And you can be confident that there is purpose in your pain.

Joy comes in the morning!

Guided Reflection

  1. What is a past painful experience you’ve seen God work for good?
  2. Is there something you’re experiencing now where you’re questioning how God might work it for good?
  3. What could you do this Christmas season to turn a challenge in your life into a blessing for others?

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