Ah! We are so close. It is almost time - as my 2-year old has been practicing at bedtime - to sing happy birthday to our Savior, Jesus! And, while it's not contained to just this season, I feel a bit like Buddy the elf: Jesus! I know Him!!
Ok, I'll reign it in so I can get a solid thought out:
When Jesus was born, there are several events that unfolded from there, but what the angels spoke to the shepherds comes into laser focus for me, that Jesus being born brought good news of great joy.
This joy that Jesus brings...it is different than simply being happy. Joy is something that is deeper than wonderful moments that please us. As believers, joy is actually our constant that carries us from moment to moment - through highs and lows. Joy is something that transcends trial or suffering; it is not subject to our circumstances...it's what sustains us when this world is too much to take.
Joy is a result of knowing God; it is what a deep, real relationship with Him brings us; joy founded in faith in Jesus is as solid as the promises He has made, fulfilled and will fulfill.
Right now, my family is joyful. We are filled with the love of God. My husband and I walk with the Holy Spirit living in us and reminding us of the truth when life throws us hardship...because life will. That is a guarantee (the Bible reminds us of this several times). Suffering is not only a guarantee of this world (for believers specifically - as living a life for the Lord is met with opposition, misunderstanding and hate on the regular basis), but God, in His mercy and grace, uses all of our suffering for good.
He will use that suffering to bring us closer to Him: deepen our joy with His presence in our lives, through our comfort in Him alone and through His promises to come. He will use it to bring us to our knees and His name to our lips.
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4)
As I finish out this year, my family is going through suffering - and it is surrounded by a lot of unknown and the potential of deeper suffering to come. It hurts. It is hard. And in a lot of ways, my finite, human mind bends toward fear of the future. At the same time, and so much stronger than any fear and sadness that may creep in, I feel joy. I trust the Lord and the purpose He will bring to this suffering. And in that joy, He brings me peace: it calms my fears and allows me to take my white-knuckled grip off of the wheel, knowing His way is higher and always perfect.
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 )
So friends, I sign off...for the year. And until next year:
JOY TO THE WORLD. THE LORD IS COME!