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(LifeSiteNews) — Christmas always has the effect of reminding me of the glory of God … and my own mortality. Something always happens during this mystical time of year that makes me more deeply reflect on the fact that I’ll be before His judgment seat one day, and that I better be ready for that if it happens in the not-so-distant future. 

Earlier this month, I lost my friend Jessica. I only knew her for a little over a year and a half, but she (and her many children) had a big impact on me. If you’d like, you can read about how she heroically laid down her own life during her battle with COVID so her unborn baby could live. Consider donating to help her family in these trying times. 

But it’s not just Jessica’s passing that has me thinking about heaven lately. It’s my own body’s frailty that’s forcing me to contemplate eternity in light of Christ’s birth. 

Almost four years ago, I began fighting — and thus far have been unable to defeat — a strange neurological illness that no doctor has been able to figure out. I’ve always believed it’s a result of small intestine bacteria overgrowth (SIBO), but treatments for that don’t seem to work.  

I decided two years ago to start going to the gym and to eat as healthy as possible in order to give my body the best possible chance at healing itself. Although I’ve been able to shave off nearly 80 pounds, I’ve had next to no improvement. 

When you’re undergoing an affliction you can’t recover from, you have two options to choose from: either give into despair (like Judas did) or embrace your cross (like Christ did) and throw yourself headlong into the infinite mercy of God, trusting that, as the physician of our souls, He only gives us that which that will help us get to heaven. 

I don’t know if I’ll ever fully heal from what I’m enduring right now. I’ve been praying that I will, but if that doesn’t happen, so what? “Give me only Your grace and Your love, O Lord, having these I am rich enough and ask for nothing more,” St. Ignatius of Loyola once wrote. I’ve tried to repeat that prayer as often as possible lately. 

This Christmas, I’m asking God to let myself and all of LifeSite’s readers embrace the cross Our Father wills for us, whatever it is, completely and without reservation. I pray that you’ll join me in doing so. May God bless you and your loved ones this Christmas season and in the new year.

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Stephen Kokx is a journalist for LifeSiteNews. He previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago under the late Francis Cardinal George. A former community college instructor, Stephen has written and spoken extensively about Catholic social teaching and politics. His essays have appeared in a variety of outlets, including Catholic Family NewsCatholicVote, and Alpha News.


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