This transcript is taken from a Stand in the Gap Today program originally aired on 11/28/23.  To listen to the program, please click HERE.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Well, hi, friends, and welcome to Stand In the Gap Today, I’m your host, Jamie Mitchell, director of church culture at the American Pastors Network. And a special welcome to you as we’re kicking off the holiday season that will descend upon us in the days ahead. And even though our lives will be full of festivities and family gatherings and times of fellowship and food and giving of gifts and many Christmas services especially focusing on God coming to earth, this time of the year can be a difficult one for many people and we want to address that today. We want to help those maybe experiencing loneliness, depression, painful memories, many missed expectations that can lead to a boatload of disappointments.

Counselor’s offices will begin to fill up, therapy groups will be overflowing and many people will hide away over the next few weeks just hoping for January to arrive quickly. For many, even though they know Christ, the darkness of shadows, the fact of the light of the world coming into the world to give us life and light. Today, we want to address some difficult issues that some may experience during these holiday season and we want to offer hope and encouragement and, in some way, help you face these issues so you’ll be able to walk in victory in Christ and enjoy the holidays to some extent.

Our title today is Under the Dark Cloud: When Trials are Many and Often. And to help me navigate these present struggles in people’s lives is my friend, pastor, counselor and author Andy Farmer. Andy has served for almost three decades. Gosh, that makes you sound old, Andy. But he has served on the pastoral staff of Covenant Fellowship Church in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, he also serves on the Biblical Counseling Coalition leadership team, he’s authored books, one entitled The Real Peace, I read that, excellent. Trapped: Getting People Free, read that, excellent. And a book that we discussed here a few months ago on Stand In the Gap, a historical look at the Ordinary Greatness, the Life of Elias Boudinot. Andy, welcome back to Stand In the Gap.

Andy Farmer:                    Jamie, it’s great to be back with you. Happy Thanksgiving.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Happy Thanksgiving and, a little earlier, Merry Christmas. Andy, you’ve spent most of your adult life caring for God’s people and helping them face these dark clouds of life. Each of our segments today, I want to look at some different struggles people might be facing and, as we just talked, at the holiday time, these seem to be amplified and even harder struggles. So, let’s first consider this. There may be those today who are facing physical struggles, some affliction or illness, what words of insight and encouragement do you share with people who are facing sickness like this? And obviously, they didn’t ask for this trial or they may or may not have a cure in the future or some solution but what kinds of things do they need to hear and know as they face their physical afflictions?

Andy Farmer:                    Oh, yeah. Well, there are two types of physical afflictions that I deal with. One is, given that I work with a lot of older people, they’re just the ones that come with age, the increasing limitations in life, the sense of difficulties at things that you do well, even just mounting illnesses. And then there are others that just come at people when they don’t expect them. That diagnosis, that cancer or heart issue or whatever. A friend of mine just went in for a triple bypass surgery, about my age, very healthy but, boom, now he’s facing this and it changes his life.

And so, there’s two kinds of things that are going on with people and so, if I’m thinking about a person who is facing that kind of trial and they’re facing it suddenly, then the main thing I want to do is make sure I don’t speak too quickly. People don’t need my advice, they don’t need my words initially, they need my presence. And I think about what would I want if I was in a place where, suddenly, my life before me is changing dramatically because of a physical issue, what would I want? I wouldn’t want someone coming in telling me here are the things that you can do or I’ve tried these remedies or do this or do this or this, that would be overwhelming, what I’d want is someone just to come in and sit with me. And hopefully, in that quiet, let me voice my own fears and concerns.

So, really, in one way, it’s more a matter of how to let somebody who’s struggling with that have a safe place to share their concerns rather than me speaking into them.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Andy, all of the things we’re going to talk about today, in one way or another, touch on this issue of suffering. I know people who go through physical difficulties and sickness and those kinds of things, especially if they’re believers, there’s still this question in their mind as how do I grapple with suffering especially if I really believe God is a loving God. What would you say to somebody who’s grappling with that difficulty about suffering and how do they need to look at it a little differently, especially through the eyes of a believer?

Andy Farmer:                    Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting, I was just reading today, I’m rereading Knowing God by J.I. Packer, it’s his 50th anniversary of the book, and let me take a shot at it again after … I read it back in, gosh, 1980. And I was reading God Only Wise, the chapter God Only Wise and he actually talks a lot about that in that chapter. He talks about the fact that God is wise and powerful. If you read the scriptures, you see His wisdom and His power are often linked together. And that’s what we need, we need to recognize that God is powerful, He can do whatever He wants to do, there’s nothing we face that God cannot overcome. But at the same time, He’s also wise, He has a plan, He is at work in our suffering.

And for Christians, we fall into a tendency of saying, “Well, now that I’m a Christian or being a Christian, it comes with a bit of a promise by God, maybe in small letters, maybe not a big promise but a little promise that I’m really not going to suffer like other people do,” but that just hasn’t been the case. As I interact with people in my own life, we suffer as well but the difference is we can trust in an all-powerful God and we can trust a God who is good and who is wise and leaves nothing to chance. And so, whatever’s going on, this is one of the difficult lessons of being a disciple of Christ, is that, when we follow Jesus Christ, we do enter into patterns and seasons of suffering and, ultimately, that suffering is meant to prepare us for the time when we won’t suffer anymore.

So, I think there is a we’re always grappling with, “Lord, please heal me. Lord, but I also want to yield to You in what your best interest in my life is.”

Jamie Mitchell:                 Andy, when we come back, we’re going to go and talk about relational pain and experiencing that during the holiday. Today, we’re talking about the dark clouds in life, come back and join us here at Stand In the Gap.


Jamie Mitchell:                 Well, maybe we’ve taken on a bigger task than we realized but we’re attempting to look at some of the different trials that any of us could face and gain some biblical wisdom. Our guest today is Pastor Andy Farmer and, Andy, one of the storm clouds that hovers over all of us at some point in our lives is relational conflicts. And especially during the holidays, we feel the reality of this cloud when we gather with loved ones and we realize that someone might be missing or maybe we have a divided family at the holiday because of some relational rupture that has happened.

And we understand this is all part of the human experience and, for the most part, we would love to avoid this kind of a problem. But this issue of relational conflict, especially during the holidays, it is a real issue, isn’t it?

Andy Farmer:                    It really is and the holidays have a unique way of heightening the tension in those because you’re either sometimes forced to relate to people you’ve been in conflict with or you’re sad because you’re not able to relate to them and it comes out in the holidays.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I start thinking to myself what party am I going to be at or what family member am I going to see and, if there is some underlying issue, you have fear and trepidation of seeing them. Andy, what can we do to attempt to resolve issues with those that we love if there has been a broken relationship?

Andy Farmer:                    Well, the first thing is something we shouldn’t do which is try to resolve a conflict just because it’s the holidays. There can be a lot of pressure to we’ve got to get this thing settled, something that may have been going for a year or maybe multiple years, well, we got to get it settled because they’re coming in three days and I need to call them up and we need to just hash this out and, that, talking about throwing a gasoline on a fire. Everybody comes with that perspective and you just don’t want to try to fix something in a day or two that’s taken months or years to create. So, that’s the one thing you don’t do.

And so, then you’re left with, okay, we have people we’re going to interact with who we’re at odds with on something, maybe it’s a political issue, maybe it’s a relational issue, whatever it is. I feel like, what I’ve tried to do, it’s happened in my family, and what I’ve tried to do is I want to set the tone. I have responsibility before the Lord to set the tone for any interaction I have with people. I’m going to move toward people, I’m going to lean toward people, I want to be the person who, if there’s a wall, I’m going to at least, on my side, try to get past that wall. Now, they may or may not respond the way I’d want to but it’s that awful sense that you have two people testing each other or two groups testing each other to see who’s drilled down harder that I’m trying to get away from.

So, I recommend you just say, “Lord, help me to love the way You’d want me to love. I don’t have to resolve the issues to love people.”

Jamie Mitchell:                 Andy, you just used a phrase there that, in full disclosure, a few years ago, my wife and I had to navigate some things in our own life and we sat with Andy and he was so helpful but one of the phrases that he used to us was this idea of leaning towards the person. They may not be ready, if I remember how you explained it, Andy, is they may not be ready to resolve it but that leaning towards them is a benefit to try to get the things resolved. Isn’t that what you mean by that?

Andy Farmer:                    I think it’s Christ-like, I think Jesus leans toward us. He doesn’t look at us in our rebellion against Him and say you make the first move, He moves toward us, He is always moving toward us. And when we do that, we represent Him and, at the very least, we give the person the opportunity to say, “Am I going to stand in my grudge or am I going to try to find some way to build a bridge from my side?” So, I think, when we do that, we actually create, potentially, the opportunity to have a holiday season, maybe, that isn’t fraught with conflict and tension and then, [inaudible 00:12:37] side of it, maybe there is a way to start to talk and build fresh bridges. Just don’t try to do it all in the holidays.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Oh, yeah. The thing is, Andy, as much as we might dread this time of year having to come face to face with people that we’re in conflict with, I’m just wondering, could the holidays and this time of year, could it actually help to move the ball forward in seeing reconciliation come about in our loved one’s lives?

Andy Farmer:                    Yeah, I think so. I think, if we get through the holidays where we have extended grace and mercy and please the Lord with our approach, God can use that. He can soften hearts, He can remove the obstacles that are there that are, a lot of times, they’re just because we develop judgments of other people. So, let’s say someone has something against you and they’re convinced you are angry toward them or you’re against them and then you move in a way that shows something different, it might open them up to the idea, well, maybe I need to rethink where I’m coming from on this and at least you get a chance maybe to not have another negative experience.

One of the things that’s really hard about the holidays, Jamie, is that you start creating these negative traditions where, every year, there’s some explosion or some new brick in the wall is created because of an offense and so we want to do things that begin to tear down those negative traditions as well.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Andy, talking about relationships, let me just shift gears a little bit and let me just address quickly the first holiday after somebody has passed away or died or maybe even a divorce but that person is not here any longer, they have experienced a loss. What word of encouragement … As a pastor, you must have walked people, a lot of people, through their first holidays without a loved one, what words of encouragement for them, but also for their family, how to help the loved one who has lost somebody?

Andy Farmer:                    Yeah, I think it’s important for people to … If I’m talking to the person, I’m just saying, “These days, as much as they’re on the calendar as significant days, they’re just days and you can get through that day and so let’s not overburden your life with the significance of a day that is, really, at the end of the day, going to be any like the other day.” So, I think, part of that, helping them recognize I’ve just got to work through this, I’ve got to get through it. Most people who have experienced serious loss recognize the first year and each of those commemorative days is the toughest one so we want to help them through that. If we’re friends, we’re family, we’re inviting them in, we’re finding ways to make sure they don’t feel alone and they can talk about the loss.

The hard part about the holidays is, when somebody has experienced loss, people can feel like, “Well, if they come over, that’s going to affect us,” but I think this is where we love people. We bring people into our homes and we give them a place to … We sit Shiva with them, we give them a place just to be sad in the middle of the holidays. And I think that can really be helpful because they need to know that they’re not outside the camp just because something’s happened in their lives that nobody knows how to relate to.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Listen, loss brings grief and grief needs mourning, there needs to be some mourning that is experienced. Andy, to tie together the first segment and this second, just a minute or so that we have left, one of the things is, when somebody is ill, maybe they have cancer or they have lost somebody, there’s a temptation to go silent, for people not to say anything. If they come over to your house, to almost ignore that there’s an issue. That’s not healthy either. We can’t ignore the obvious, is that right?

Andy Farmer:                    No, we can’t. I think, if you’re going to do that and you’re going to invite somebody in or do something with them, I think a wise thing to do is to connect with them at first and say, “We want you to be here but tell me what you think would be helpful for you as we’re here.” Let them inform. They may say, “Well, you know what? If we can just have it like a normal experience and I don’t have to think about it, it’s a respite from thinking about this grief that I’m dealing with, that’ll be helpful.” They may feel like, “You know what would be great is if we maybe all had a chance to share a little bit about the person who we lost?”

Different people are going to have different approaches so I think what gives people dignity is actually asking them what would help you, what do you think. And they may not have a clear idea but just even being asked tells them that you care about where they’re at but you’re not trying to simply fix it.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Recently, I went to a wedding of a gal whose father died within the year and his absence and his presence not being there was obvious to everybody. And through the entire ceremony and the beginning of the reception, nobody said his name. And then I got up to pray for the meal and I just felt led to say, “Hey, before I pray, you know who’s missing here?” And I began to talk about my friend who wasn’t here and I said, “If he was here right now, he would want us to enjoy today and be a part of this special day,” and so many people came up and said, “Thank you for stating the obvious and telling us that it was okay to talk about this.”

Friends, someone once said, there’s no pain like a relational pain whether it’s a child or parent or spouse. And so, if you’re facing these things, we want to help you to process through that. When we come back, how do you navigate a situation where you experience accusation? Come back and join us here at Stand In the Gap.


Jamie Mitchell:                 Well, today we’re dealing with what I’m calling the dark clouds of life that might form around you and your family, your loved ones during the holiday season. And these trials, especially during the holidays, seem to intensify and we want, in a small way, to try to provide some empathy and sympathy and maybe some clarity and comfort and Andy Farmer is helping us and using his years of pastoral counseling to share words of encouragement and some insights to help us.

Andy, here’s another crisis that people, I think, are facing today and that is being under some personal attack or accusation. And all of us come under ridicule at times and we may experience suffering for our faith, for righteousness, for our belief in Jesus Christ, some people in our orbit may even try to, as we hear today, cancel us. This is happening a lot with people. I’m interacting with people who are experiencing these kinds of tensions because they stand for the gospel. But I’m hearing more and more that people are facing harsh attacks for their values, political views, personal convictions coming from those who are close to you. It’s almost oppressive, it’s almost like I don’t even want to get together with people.

So, how do we handle this kind of tension? How do we handle these attacks? How do we respond to people? And are you seeing this, even amongst God’s people, happening today?

Andy Farmer:                    Yeah, Jamie, I think I’m seeing it but the problem is I think you see it a lot of times through social media which is lobbying criticism in broad strokes. And so, everybody gets to see your criticism of somebody or criticism of me or indirect. I’ve had people indirectly criticize me by criticizing something I’m involved in, criticize my church, it all feels personal when it comes at us. And then there are people who just … And sometimes there are people who we know are criticizing us but we don’t have any particular evidence of it but we’re told about it by somebody else or whatever. So, we live in a very critical world, we live in a world where we tend to look at things in the negative and I think, these days, it’s much more polarized so you’re going to see more of that.

I want to be really careful to differentiate between criticism that I really need to deal with and criticism I don’t need to deal with. The vast majority of criticism we face, we don’t really need to deal with it, it’s not going to help to deal with it, you’re going to have to learn how to have a thick skin. But then, occasionally, there’ll be things that come to us personally, an email or a text or something that’s said about us personally that we do need to at least reckon with. So, I don’t know if you’re experiencing that but I think Christians can tend to take anything said negative about Christians as if it’s personal.

And Jesus was very clear that, by identifying with Him, He said in John 15, by identifying with Him, we are hated in the world, we are despised and so we should not be surprised when that comes at us. A little harder when it comes at us from our brothers and sisters but I think the same principles apply. Just because somebody decides to lob something at us, doesn’t mean we have to respond to it.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Andy, one of the things I’m doing more and more, and maybe this is a sign that I am getting old, and that is, when I’m getting things like on email or texts and that kind of things, I just ask the question, if I respond back with a text or an email, am I really going to be understood? And so, I’m picking up the phone and actually calling people directly and saying, “Hey, I got this email, I just want to clarify, I want to talk to you about it, I want you to hear my voice, I want to hear your response.” Because I think some of those misunderstandings really get stoked in the mediums that we have today and I think we have to be extremely careful.

Andy, you mentioned something there, you said that Jesus made the statement that, “Just as the world will hate Me, they’re going to hate you.” And I know what the scriptures tell us that we’re going to suffer for righteousness’ sake and we are, for the most part, instructed as that we’re to resist cursing back at people. Yet is it wrong to defend ourselves and our family and to even push back some of the toxic stuff that’s coming towards Christians? And even at Christmastime, we’re in the middle of this whole thing with Israel going on and Christianity and faith, how do we respond to this? I know this gets to people at times, especially at Christmastime, how do we respond when you feel like you’re being attacked for your faith?

Andy Farmer:                    Yeah. Well, again, I would go back to say it’s one thing for people to lob things at Christians in general, we should expect that, it’s another thing for me to feel like, when they lob something at Christians in general, they’re lobbing at me personally. I recognize that you don’t know me enough for this to affect me, you don’t have any idea what I think about this so I don’t have any responsibility to anything I read about Christians. It saddens me because sometimes there is truth to it but it’s not something I’m going to lose sleep over, I’m certainly not going to feel like I’ve got to take up a cause. I’ve got real life gospel opportunities here around me and, if I’m distracted by frustration or anger at the generic complaints about Christians, I’m going to be off my game, that’s not what I’m here for.

There is a point, Jamie, though where I think criticism comes at us personally, enough close to us where we have to deal with it because it really is … We’re feeling the effect personally because it is somewhat personal. There’s four things I try to do. One is I try to resist the temptation to a defensive reaction. So, the first thing I recognize is I’m going to be defensive, I’m going to lash back out, I want to go back at it and I’ll develop all these thoughts I want to say to somebody or post or whatever. Resist that, that is almost never helpful, rarely wise and actually can validate the other person’s criticism of us because we’re being baited into something.

So, first thing is resist. The second thing I do, which is actually very hard, is I try to press myself towards humility. Maybe there is something true or relevant in what they’re saying, maybe there’s something God wants me to see through this, maybe the messenger is not the messenger I want but the message I might need to hear. Now, that ties into a third thing, which I think is crucial, which I think some people don’t do, is I think that we need to make sure we don’t own what we don’t believe we’re supposed to own. So, we are humble, we say, well, maybe there’s reasonableness in this, maybe I need to consider this but that doesn’t mean that we say, well, we’re all wrong and now we’ve got to apologize. That sense of mea culpa that came out, that sense of, okay, I’ve got to apologize for everything that’s ever happened, no, if you aren’t convicted by God, if you can’t see where you’ve wronged biblically, you don’t have to own that.

So, there may be some that you own but not everything, that’s a hard thing for Christians. But we need to know, if we’re going to stand against something, it’s only those things that we know that we can’t own. And then, finally, I think we commit ourselves to a biblical response which can look like a lot of things. It can look like responding to the person in a way like you’ve described, hopefully personally. It can look like not responding to somebody because there’s no response that’s necessary or required from me, it can overlook an offense. Okay, that person, they said that, I’m not going to attribute that to them, I’m going to give them the benefit of doubt, we’re just going to move on. Maybe I do want to come to them and confess because I have done something they’re hurt by.

There’s a lot of responses the Bible gives us, we tend to only use the ones that our emotions drive us to and we need to look at the full breadth of the opportunities God has for us in criticism. It is inevitable and it’s a test for us as well for other people.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Andy, we may run out of time and we’ll pick up some of this in the next segment but, as I was sitting here thinking, probably one of the most difficult criticisms can come from your kids. Give a word to a parent here today that might be listening and they may have an unbelieving kid that just has maybe walked away from the Lord, walked away from the faith of their family has held for all these years and they get the criticism from their own child. We have about a minute left, we’ll talk about this more at the second half but a word to parents who have to face this with their own kids.

Andy Farmer:                    Yeah, let me speak quickly to, if that kid is a teenager or somebody living under your leadership, the biggest danger is you treat that as disrespect as opposed to a kid trying to differentiate themselves from you and so you don’t respond, “Well, you’re being disrespectful,” I think that’s the word I don’t want to use. I want to use the word, “Okay, tell me what you see. Why do you see that?” I want to help them have to own their words because kids, young kids or teenagers, will throw words out there and not own them. So, part of what I want to do is just say tell me what you mean, show me where you see that. It could be you’re right, it might not be you’re right.

We can talk more on the other side of the break about it if you have adult children who do that but, with teens, the biggest thing I see parents do is make the mistake of treating everything like it’s disrespect which actually just exacerbates the problem.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Andy, that is so good. Friends, I hope you’re listening today. We want to give you encouragement, hope and maybe some insights on how to minister through the holiday season. When we wrap up in our [inaudible 00:29:45], I want to go back and talk about family, I want to talk about the unrighteous profiting. Come back and join us for the last segment on today’s Stand In the Gap.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Well, there are some programs that I host that I do not want to end for personal reasons and I wish I could keep going talking to my friend Andy Farmer about the difficulties that people face and that we will see around the holiday time. It makes the holidays feel weightier and we’ve been talking a little bit of how to handle those who are experiencing physical illness and relational conflict, maybe a loss of some kind or even having a personal attack or accusations. We could have added things like maybe you’re facing a holiday with somebody in prison or incarcerated or facing legal issues, people in nursing homes, people experiencing financial issues, you’re going to have your Christmas dinner in a hospital because of a serious illness.

We could go all around the block with the different things that you could be facing and we’re here today to give hope and encouragement, some insights but, obviously, most importantly, we don’t want you to face these issues without knowing the Lord Jesus. And before we even go any further, most importantly, if you’re here today and you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you haven’t come to a place where you’ve given your life to Him, you’ve asked Him to forgive your sins, to make you His child, therefore, you don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit to help you walk through these things. That would be my word to you facing this holiday season. The greatest gift that you could receive is the gift that God has offered through Jesus Christ and so I just want you to know that, I think that’s important, especially as we’re facing these issues.

But Andy, we ended that segment talking about kids and I want to pivot here in this last segment and go back to that. We dealt with the kid who’s a teenager but what if you have a grown kid, he or she is now married, they have a family of their own, they have walked away from the Lord but you’re going to see them a lot and they may even have a little antagonism towards you because you are a believer, because maybe they felt that you forced faith upon them. How do they navigate the holiday season?

Andy Farmer:                    That’s a great question. My heart goes out to folks. Many folks I know, the holidays they face, they’ve just been tried to be faithful to the Lord and their kids have rejected the Lord in some way, maybe even have rejected gender and sexuality biblical norms and they’re dealing with that and having to navigate how to love without affirming which is a huge issue for parents and families these days. And so, as I’ve talked to people in all these situations, I think that where I’ve seen people do it well is that they’ve just made clear decisions about how they’re going to walk out their convictions.

So, if it’s a husband and wife and they’re having events or they’re hosting events or they’re having people in, they just, okay, what are we going to do so that we’re on the same page together and we are not comprising our convictions? But having established that, now, how can we create an environment of welcome? That produces hard choices sometimes. Sometimes it’s not the kid, it might be, in a lot of situations, it’s the in-law spouse, there’s tension with someone that your child married and that’s a problem. Or there’s parenting issues, there are different parenting styles and you’ve got grandkids coming in or there’s conflicts between siblings that come into play.

I think for the people in my age, my world where we’re the patriarchs and matriarchs of those situations, I think we want to act like that. We want to say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” But when you come in and you’re no longer a member of my household, you are family and guests, we want you to feel hospitality, we want you to feel welcome. But you know that this is what we’re going to do, we’re not going to do these things, we’re going to do this and let people make choices. They may not want to come for the whole time. They may say, “Well, we’re going to come for this and then we’re going to do this,” that’s okay.

The biggest thing I want to make sure people do is that, our traditions that we want to hold onto, are just that, they’re traditions. They have to be submitted to, well, Lord, what’s the interest that You have in the souls that are involved?” We want to navigate ourselves toward that, not just to preserving family tradition.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Andy, one thing that I’ve told people over the years who are facing this is I try to empathize with them, I say, “Listen, I know that you personally feel rejected that your son or your daughter has not wanted to follow the faith that you have. They don’t want anything to do with Christ even though you’ve raised them those things and so you feel the personal rejection. But if they have rejected Christ, they’re an unbeliever and now we take a different mode, we take an evangelistic mode towards people.”

Andy, before our time escapes, I want to ask you one last question. You’ve shepherded God’s people for so many years, you’ve had to have approached many holiday seasons knowing people were burdened down with various problems, is there one overarching overall message or exhortation that you would have for people who are facing the holidays with some dark clouds around them?

Andy Farmer:                    I think these holidays in particular are a time where, even though they’re ostensibly about celebrating the birth of Jesus, so many other things get in the way. And one of the things I try to help people do is, at the end of the day, the Jesus who you worship, the Jesus who you pray to, the Jesus who you trust throughout the year is here for you in this time. Look to Him, press into Him, don’t let all the other cultural aspects of these holidays keep you from the idea that, yeah, you know what I need, I want to move toward Jesus, I want to rest in His grace. He has given Himself to me and He has given me promises to live out on and I want to do that. And if I get to the end of these holidays and my sense of peace in Christ has been preserved, then what does it really matter what else happened, that can all be fixed and cleaned up.

We have a whole year to work through things but I want to make sure that, this holiday, I drew close to the Lord because I know He’s drawn close to me. That’s what the incarnation’s all about, Jesus drawing close and inviting us to draw close to Him. I think we have to keep ourselves focused there because everything in the world and even in our families can tend to work against that.

Jamie Mitchell:                 Andy, thank you so much. We needed this to prepare us for the coming holidays, we want the Lord to touch people as they listen. And friends, maybe you’re not going through a personal struggle but you have a family member that you can minister to or maybe somebody at your church, I encourage you, pass along the link of this program. Go to our app, go to our website, pass along this program. Say, “Hey, listen, I was thinking about you, there’s some words here that could be an encouragement.” We do these programs so that we can equip and enlighten you. Our guest has been Andy Farmer today. Bless you, my friend.

Friends, let me pray as we close. Father, thank You for today. We’ve tried to help touch people where they’re at, facing the struggles that they’re facing this holiday season and we would ask You that, by Christ’s power and His Holy Spirit, You’ll touch the people listening today and that the light of Christ will push away these dark clouds. We pray it today, in Jesus’ name, amen. Thank you so much, God bless you, have a wonderful day and a great holiday. Join us back here tomorrow for Stand In the Gap Today.