I remember the year I bought this Christmas ornament with just three little letters on it. I remember it so vividly, because joy was absent and I was desperate. Each year when Christmas is over, I wrap it in tissue paper to protect and preserve it's pillowy promise. But never has this ornament had as much meaning to me as it does now. I was filled with happiness when I unwrapped it last week, because now I know joy isn't conditional or dependent upon me or my circumstances.
Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
This year, amid all the pain, suffering and emotional turmoil, I also understand, through God's grace, that we can have joy in hardship. We're not alone. Many of God's people entered difficult circumstances with fear, confusion and uncertainty. Take a look:
Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, "The LORD did not appear to you?" Exodus 4:1
"Pardon me my lord, "Gideon replied, "but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manassah, and I am the least in my family." Judges 6:15
When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. Luke 1:12
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. Luke 1:29
In these examples, God's servants were confronted with life changing opportunities and difficult tasks. They grappled with fear, wonder and uncertainty about the future. They also experienced his joy. Their stories have lasted through the generations and are reminders of God's timeless presence and promise of eternal life to us, his children. We have this promise through Jesus Christ.
We get to celebrate his birth and honor him with the same sense of wonder the shepherds had when God's heavenly host appeared in the desert sky 2,000 years ago. I pray you too will be filled with wonder and joy as you celebrate with your family. Merry Christmas!
He is faithful and wonderful!