How to tell children there won't be presents?

Q: This has really been a tough year for us — lost jobs, house in foreclosure, you name it. How can we explain to our children why they aren't going to get anything for Christmas? They're too young to understand all the problems we've had. — Mrs. B.H.

A: I'm sorry for the struggles you and millions of others have been having because of the present economic crisis. We need to pray more for our leaders as they seek to find answers to these problems.

How can you explain this to your children? The best approach is to be honest with them — not going into great detail, but simply doing what you can to help them understand why this Christmas isn't going to be lavish. It's not easy, I know; they see so much on television, and they hear so much from their friends about all the expensive gifts they hope to get. As a footnote, see if one of your local social service agencies (such as the Salvation Army) has a program to make gifts available to children in need.

But I also encourage you to make this Christmas special to them in other ways. Does your church have a Christmas program they'll enjoy? Can they help you decorate with ornaments they make, or help you bake something special for Christmas day? And remember: The greatest gift we can give our children isn't a toy or new computer game, but our love.

Most of all, take time to teach your children about the greatest Christmas gift of all — God's gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. He knows your struggles, for His family too was poor. But through Him we can become spiritually rich, because "for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Q: Why didn't the devil try to stop Jesus from being born? After all, Jesus was coming into the world to turn people away from the devil's ways, wasn't he? — K.D.

A: Yes, Jesus was coming into the world to turn people away from the devil's temptations. In fact, the Bible says, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3:8).

And shortly after his birth, the devil did try to destroy him. The devil's instrument was the king who ruled that area at the time, Herod the Great. You'll remember that when Jesus was born wise men from another country came to Jerusalem, asking where the new king had been born. They had been led there by the appearance of a special star, and they wanted to worship the new king. (You can read about them in Matthew 2:1-12.)

But when Herod heard this, he was filled with rage. If a new king was born, Herod might lose his throne — and he had no intention of letting that happen. As a result, he ordered all the infants in Bethlehem to be killed, hoping to stamp out this threat to his power. But an angel warned Joseph to flee to Egypt, "for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him" (Matthew 2:13). Joseph obeyed, and the attempt by Herod (and Satan) to kill Jesus was thwarted.

Throughout Jesus' life, Satan did everything he could to stop him — and when Jesus was put to death, he thought he had won. But he hadn't, for Jesus Christ conquered sin and death and Satan by his resurrection from the dead. This Christmas season, thank God for Jesus Christ, and for the hope we have of eternal life through faith in him.

Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1 (877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:

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