Sadly, I know part of the joy will be missing for some whom I dearly love. My good friend, Nancy, who patiently shared the gospel with me many years ago, has just lost her husband. Clint was a man who loved the Lord and faithfully served Him. But Clint had been suffering for over a year, completely paralyzed and relying on a ventilator to keep him breathing. There had been many ups and downs through the course of the year, with heartfelt hopes that the Lord would heal him. But just a few weeks ago, the Lord took Clint home. Nancy is blessed with a large family and children who love the Lord, love her, and love one another. That will bring much joy this Christmas. But the joy of Clint will be missing. There will be an empty spot beside the tree and at the table. There will be the hole in Nancy’s heart. I know all too well because my heart and mind vividly remember the grief of my first Christmas without my hubby, Barry.
You also may know someone who is having difficulty finding the joy in Christmas this year. Perhaps that person is you. Death is not the only loss that can bring heartache and pain at this time of year. There is loss of a job, a home, a friendship, a reputation, health, hope, and more. Being far away from family can bring loneliness, and estrangement from family can be devastating. There are prisoners who will spend Christmas alone behind cold steel bars. There are soldiers on foreign soil who long for a hug and the warmth of home. Or there is just the stress of living in this fallen world that denies God and Jesus and Christmas. As the world in its downward spiral, with its demands and its grief, presses in on you, where do you turn? Jesus told us that in this world we would have tribulation. But He also told us “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Yes, we know that in the end He will be victorious. “The wrong shall fail and right prevail” (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow). But what do we do until then? How do we find victory over fear, grief, sorrow, and sadness here and now?
The apostle John wrote, For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (1 John 5:4). Faith is the victory! By faith we have victory here and now, over every fear, every sin, and every sorrow. It is by keeping our eyes on Jesus with humble gratitude for all He has done for us that we can transcend the troubles of this world and find joy in our blessings in Christ. Faith is our joy! So if you are feeling down and depressed as Christmas approaches, open your Bible and read, get down on your knees, go to church, pray with a friend. Faith is the victory!
And if you are already filled with joy this Christmas and counting your many blessings, will you reach out to someone who is hurting? Will you deliberately reach out in faith to lift someone else to joy? What would God have you do? You could make a phone call. Or write a note -- a real note on paper they can hold in their hand and read over and over for encouragement. Or bake some cookies or make some fudge and take someone a plate of comforting sweets. Give a hug. Lets put the joy of the Lord into Christmas for ourselves and for others. And don’t forget to say Merry Christmas -- loudly and from your heart -- and with a big smile.
With Christmas love and joy,