An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. I love the quote from Henri Nouwen shown below. As we enter the Christmas season, we would love to say that all is well with our world. Yet we know there is trouble in virtually every corner of the globe. Just this week over 100 school children were killed by an act of evil in Pakistan. In our own country, we have signs of unrest and uncontrolled anger that plays out in the form of a family that is wiped out by an angry father. Where then is joy? The Proverbs tell us “There is deceit in the heart of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace.” We can choose to promote peace every day which will bring joy to us and to others.
As we look to Christmas, we have hope and faith that Christ will return to restore peace to this earth, the peace of which the angels spoke. We also have joy because we are confident in this view of our future. This is a confident view of the future, yes, but even more it is a joy that is given to us by the gift of God’s Spirit living in us providing peace in the middle of the storms of this world and our own lives. Nehemiah told the people who were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem that the joy of the Lord was their strength. It was because of this joy that they were able to keep on keeping on. The writer of the book of Hebrews talked of the joy Jesus had, even as he was heading for crucifixion on the cross. The writer goes on to say, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Heb 12:3)
James wrote that we should consider it joy when we face trials of many kinds. Why? Because the testing of our faith, the testing of our hope, develops perseverance which in turn brings us to maturity and completeness. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith …” This is the Jesus that we celebrate during this Christmas season. God came to earth as a human infant and grew to manhood so that we could get a glimpse of God and his character.
I have friends battling all manner of illnesses and am continually amazed at the joy they display. They are carrying the joy of the Lord because they have the hope that Christ left with us, that regardless of what this world deals us, we will be victorious, we will overcome. C. S. Lewis said, “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” We have hope and because of this hope we can have the joy of the Lord and that will be our strength in good times and bad.
This is a season of celebration. Let the joy of Jesus invade your life. Take that joy and spread it to those around you. It will make a difference in someone’s life when they catch the hope and joy that Christ has placed in you.
Blessings to you as we celebrate the birth of the Christ!