2018 was a great year. It was great because no matter how much went wrong, much more went right. That does not necessarily mean that more actions, circumstances or events were better than bad. It means that through it all, I never lost the love of God in my life. There were days when it was hard to love God. Life had overwhelmed me, but that did not stop the love of God in me. There were events that caused great heartache and disappointment, but they did not cause God to stop loving me so I did not give up on God.

At this time of year coinciding with the end of one year and the beginning of a new year, I want to offer to everyone some great presents. If you did not get what you wanted for Christmas, I hope you at least received what you needed. I am sure there were some who are disappointed with your presents. I want to give you some wonderful presents and I hope you will receive them.

Presents do not require thanks. They are given out of love sometime for no special reason other than care. That is the reason for the presents I am giving. They require no thanks, but thanks would be appreciated, not to me, but to America.

To those who have been so upset with the administration of Donald Trump, I give you the present of hope. Not hope for a different president, but hope from the belief that “The President” is the ultimate governor. To those who are filled with bitterness over the political climate, I present you the sweetness of thanksgiving. To those who are filled with hatred of all those who do not share your views, I present you the unconditional love of God.

Here are some more presents. To those who believe America is a racist, cruel and unkind nation, I present to you the freedom bought by the hundreds of thousands of men and women who lived and died for our freedom in two great wars. Not just the freedom of America, but of the whole world. I present to you the results of a war that cost more American lives than any other war. It was fought to preserve this great nation and to bring freedom and dignity to people who were viewed by many around the world as property, not fellow humans.

To those who accept the teaching that America is unwelcoming to immigrants, I give you the present of the most accepting legal immigration policy of any nation in the world. Sadly too many people do not want to unwrap the legal present of citizenship, they want to steal the benefits of legal citizens and benefit from their theft. I present to the many politicians who want open borders the opportunity to support, house, feed and provide medical care and protection to those who have stolen the present of citizenship. Just do it with your own resources and space.

To those who are filled with resentment, I present you the relief of gratitude. When you are thankful, everything seems better. To those who are filled with a desire for revenge, I present you with forgiveness. Forgiveness clears your heart so love can come in. To those who have eyes, but fail to see the good in America, I present you the billions of dollars and millions of hours of human resources that have inundated the ravaged places of the world through the goodness of the American government and people.

To those who would say that this article is filled with ignorant platitudes, I present to you the gift of tolerance. That gift should not be used to condemn, but to liberate. Tolerance is not a license to accept anything and everything, but the ability to separate the person from their belief. It is my belief that we should love the person even if we strongly disagree with their belief.

I hope you enjoy my presents to you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Billy P. Long of Benton Harbor has resided in the area since 1972. He is retired as pastor of the Apostolic Tabernacle in Benton Township.