IN MY 56 years of existence, I have never been confined in a hospital until recently. Prior to that, the only time I was in an operating table and sedated was when I underwent an endoscopy procedure as part of our annual executive check-up.

Last November 29, I went under the knife. What I thought was a minor procedure turned out to be a major operation. Having the best surgeons in the Philippines wasn’t the only reason why I was at peace. I was perfectly at peace because I know God was with me. In fact, while at the operating table, I was clasping my hand knowing and believing that God was holding me right that very moment.

Being in the midst of a crisis or a big life problem is emotionally and physically exhausting. Some break down, unable to handle the pressure. This pandemic for instance affected all of us, some losing their loved ones. A friend lost both parents to the virus. Another friend lost his wife even after spending more than two million pesos in the hospital. There are many sad stories like this.

It’s not just lives that were lost, jobs, businesses and livelihood too. In our industrial park, hundreds were retrenched. Businesses went bankrupt, with the small ones being hardest hit. Life savings that were poured into these ventures were gone in an instant. Jeepney drivers took to the street begging for assistance. Ambulant vendors and all those in the underground economy suffered. I saw a news report that says the poverty rate has gone up to 23.7% in the first half of 2021. This means there are more that 26 million Filipinos who are now living in poverty.

As if our present woes are not enough, a strong typhoon devastated parts of Visayas and Mindanao. Many lives were lost and millions, possibly billions, in properties were damaged. As of this writing, many places are still without electricity and have not been reached by aid.

So in these challenging times, will Christmas still be merry? My answer is YES. Christmas is merry because of only one reason, and that is Immanuel, God is with us. No matter what situation we are in right this very moment, God is in our midst. In fact, the first Christmas wasn’t an ideal one. There was a crisis. There was no room available for Joseph and May, and so Jesus, the King of kings, was born in a manger.

In one of the sharing of Bo Sanchez, he mentioned about a group of cancer patients he met and shared the word of God with. He said that they all had peace in their hearts. In fact they said that their cancer made them closer to God.

My wish for you dear readers is that whatever situation you are in, may you have that peace and joy in your hearts, the kind that only Jesus can give. He is Immanuel, our Savior, healer and provider.

Merry Christmas everyone!