JOY TO THE WORLD

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Today in Bible study I speculated that the holidays present us with a final exam for this semester’s learning. The extra stresses and pressures of packed schedules, family demands, heightened sensitivities, unkind memories, or the consequences of procrastination, plus a variety of ongoing issues, can make it almost impossible to joyously navigate this season without God’s grace and presence. (Someone jokingly said that Christmas comes at such a busy time of the year.)

But, thankfully, our resources are limitless. We have everything we need for life and godliness (II Peter 1:3) and only have to access those resources. Need a little grace for that “prickly” person? Ask Jesus. Need patience to deal with misunderstandings? Ask Jesus. Need forgiveness for someone who hurt you? Ask Jesus. The list goes on and on. (Even though my office makes automatic deposits to my bank account, if I don’t write a check, I can’t access that money. I have to ASK.)

For example, my husband, my father, and my uncle all died in December. God sent along a sweet hospital nurse who gave us this perspective as my uncle was leaving, “Looks like he’ll be home for the birthday party.” I still smile when I think of that. What a beautiful image. I can access comfort and remember God’s promises for those who die in the Lord. Instead of grieving as if I had no hope, I hold fast to good memories (I Thessalonians 5:21) and thank God for the blessing of those precious men. I will honor them by living joyously and remembering their godly influence.

Let’s not be robbed of the deep significance of this season. All history was altered by the Advent of a tiny baby, and you and I can live out our lives in hope because of Jesus. He really is the reason for the season—not the multitude of things we sometimes allow to distract us from worshiping him. There’s joy for the world. The Lord has come.

Father, forgive us for our self-indulgences when we behave as if Christmas never happened. Make us joyous in remembering your wonderful Gift and help us to live out that blessed hope in gratitude for your unspeakable generosity. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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