I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Note: I wrote the following in December of last year in my journal. Many words were written in that journal that will not be published. Some were too personal, some too dark. But the following I believe should see the light of day. I published a post a week ago around this song and hinted at some of this writing, but rereading this told me I should publish this too.


It’s been a rough few years around my house. This year was one of the roughest. The tears cried, the sleepless nights, the anxiety, and the darkness snatching at our feet, screaming for despair. I’ve written more privately this year than I have in recent years. I want to share a few scribbles from those writings.

But my heart is broken, Lord. My nightmares keep me up at night. My daymares keep me from focusing all day.

Where seldom the darkness takes form while I walk, when I rest the lurking, oozing, despair drapes itself over my shoulders. The sleeping dragons awake and intrude on my personal space, their heavy breathing reminding me who is lord over this present age. Albeit temporary.

I do not camp in this valley alone. Even when the fire goes out and the shadows casted become all-encompassing, You are here and know what comes next.

And I lived in the Psalms. In David, our bard king, who had it very easy in life… I kid, his life was rougher than rough.

My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire (Psalm 57:4, NASB)

Yet, this man after God’s heart sang.

“Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!” Psalm 57:8 ESV

And I wrote:

God has him. And he knows it. He feels it in his bones. So instead of whimpering cries to the rocks, he grabs his lyre and strikes a chord.

One day I will understand. Or take rest before the Throne.

I know in my bones who has me. I read earlier this year that the Irish phrase things as “sadness is upon me,” instead of saying “I am sad.” See, in the English, we identify the emotion with a state of being. The Irish, from what I understand, identify emotion as a fleeting thing that rests for a time and then leaves. It isn’t who you are, but what you feel. Above you’ll see that affect my words: “despair drapes itself over my shoulders”.

And that brings us to the song that has chased me through the years and where my Christmas playlist starts this year.

And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “For hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

It’s hard coming to Christmas, a season of joy and hope, when the shadows abound. When the lurking darkness breathes fire, when hate is strong and our songs are mocked.

For the wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer. So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

Psalm 109:2-5

Despair is the complete loss of hope. We hear the songs, the words repeat— wild and sweet— but darkness… And that’s the thing about hope. Hope is not for the now but the later.

The bells ring out: God is not dead and He does not sleep.

This lyric, in other words, echoed in my darkest nights this year. I knew not what lay in shadow waiting— and sometimes I knew exactly what lay waiting— but I also knew that while the wily Dragon might currently reside over our world, over him is a mightier King that is in control of every step we take and that cunning Dragon is under His control.

Peace on Earth, good will to men. That is your hope, Christian. Rest in it here, before it is reality. Know that it is coming. Know that He has got you.

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