You can have hope from hardheartedness

Published 10:00 am Sunday, December 5, 2021

My favorite ghost story is a Christmas story.

It’s a story most everyone knows, even if they are not sure where they first heard it. Some learned it through cartoons, comedians or the Muppets.

I have read different versions and watched nearly every film made about it. It is, of course, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

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I cannot say for certain which version I saw performed first, but it may have been the 1970 adaptation “Scrooge,” starring Albert Finney, although the 1951 British film by the same name also stands out in my mind. Later, it was the 1984 version “A Christmas Carol” starring George C. Scott. Though a televised play version lives rent free in my head until the end of time.

In this play, the camera angles were from near the stage and far away in the high balcony, or where a spotlight would have hung. I can see quite clearly a viewpoint from this tall angle, Ebeneezer Scrooge cowering in his bed as the Ghost of Christmas Future moved across from stage left.

The long black-robed figure was easily three storeys tall, requiring the wide viewpoint from the camera. A large, out-of-proportion skeletal arm and hand protruded from a sleeve and silently accosted the old miser, as Scrooge cried out in terror and not a small amount of resignation, “I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?”

I can still feel the sense of dread and awe watching the scene unfold, even though I knew the story very well.

It’s a magical story, one well-told and retold. It is simply the tale of a man who has allowed his heart to become hardened to all the good around him. Then, through the great mercy shown him by his deceased business partner (sent, in turn, by an unnamed greater Spirit we can easily take to be God) through the visitation of multiple spirits who help him uncover the reasons for his hardheartedness and, over the course of one night, the scales fall from his eyes and he sees the joy he’s been missing.

The holidays are a difficult time for so many people, for so many reasons, and you may be one of those people struggling to hold it all together. You may be on the precipice of despair or of shutting off your heart completely.

In the name of holiness, hopefulness and joy, I beg you to give in to neither. Look around to see the possibilities of joy. If you can’t see them in your own life, if you can’t see them in others, look for them in Jesus and the joy and peace he gives.

If you need someone to talk to, to listen to you or pray with you, I am one of many who would accept that opportunity.

I have been the recipient of so much encouragement and hope. You can have it, too.

Change doesn’t come easily, but it can come. And Scrooge himself summed it up nicely with a statement he made the morning after his multiple spiritual encounters:

“It’s Christmas Day!” said Scrooge to himself. “I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like!”

The Holy Spirit can do that for you, too.

Brett Campbell can be reached at