Christmas is a time when people, regardless of their religious background, more readily put aside their differences, find commonality, and show acts of kindness and good will. Strangers helping strangers, families spending more time together, people making time for others above themselves—for many, this is what Christmas is all about. To those who know Jesus Christ, who have a witness of His divine role and who have a personal relationship with Him as Savior and Redeemer, Christmas is more. Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of the only begotten Son of God, who gave His life so that we would have eternal life.
Heightened turmoil in the world today may make it difficult this Christmas to feel the spirit. It seems that the world is on the edge of a political, social, economic, and cultural breakdown. You may witness more pain and sorrow in your life and in the lives of loved ones. You may struggle with social unrest and how it affects your belief system. You may simply be tired of all the strife—tired of the bantering, tired of taking a stand. Or worse yet, you may question where you stand these days, and how it lines up with what you have always known to be true.
Let this Christmas season be a time to revisit your foundation and realign your life with the Savior. Let this time allow you to reflect on what you stand for and see where it has taken your heart. Ask yourself, “Where do I stand, and how have I manifested it?” Are you prepared to face the answer?
Now is a time to consider what you stand for, because it will be a reflection of who you stand beside. How you make your stand can have positive or ill effects on your spiritual, social and even physical health. If we build our foundation on the rock, which is Christ the Lord, we cannot fail.
How Firm a Foundation
In Isaiah 41:10, it reads, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” This verse is the subject of a beloved hymn, How Firm a Foundation, attributed to Robert Keen and was included in the first LDS hymnbook of 1835. It is a hymn that has deep meaning for the early saints as they struggled to flee persecution and make a new life for themselves out west. For latter-day saints today, it still holds considerable strength and comfort. We may not face physical persecution, but we face spiritual persecution by those who wish to combat our doctrine, mock our beliefs, and destroy our testimonies.
What if How Firm a Foundation was a Christmas carol? Looking at it in this way may help to strengthen our resolve during the holiday season. It may give us the added push we need to relinquish our fears of the adversary and to build our faith upon the one true foundation, the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior for refuse have fled?
This first verse sets the foundation for Christ as the role of our Savior. If we lay our faith in Him as our rock, we can trust in his excellent word. We can find relief when we come unto Him. Imagine looking down from our home in heaven, witnessing the miraculous birth. We knew His plan, we supported it, and we rejoiced in His willingness to complete it. We knew Him as He knows us today, and we trusted Him to be our Savior and Redeemer.
In every condition, in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea,
As thy days may demand so thy succor shall be.
This verse is His promise to us, to be our champion. No matter our circumstance, He will be there for us, to give us aid, comfort and relief. As the Savior of the world, this applies to everyone, whether they know of Him or not. The light of Christ shines within us all, and we can have access to His spirit daily, liberally, and fully.
Fear not I am with thee: oh be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
When times of trouble mount, we may feel alone. This verse is so comforting, as it is a promise to us—“Fear not, I am with thee.” I look to this verse when the hardships of life bear down in a seemingly unrelenting pace, making me think to give up. How could I turn away from a God who promises to uphold me by His righteous, omnipotent hand?
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
Sometimes we wonder why we are to go through the trials of life, especially the ones that seem all consuming. But this verse points to the purpose of the fire. The fire is not to consume that which is good in us, but to burn away the dross—the rubbish in our lives, whether it be our sins, our afflictions, sorrow, and pain. He is the master healer, and His atoning sacrifice will take away our infirmities, leaving a refined soul in its place, indeed, the gold that we are to become.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
This Christmas season, let us reflect on the need for a Savior—for without Him, nothing good will survive. Let us rejoice in his coming to live among us, to teach us, and to atone for us—for without this, we would be condemned to darkness. Let us stand by Him in all things, stand by His doctrine, keep His commandments, follow in His footsteps—for without doing this, we cannot truly say we are His. Let us never forsake Him, at Christmas, or any other time throughout the year.
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.