This is the third of a 4-part Advent series posted each week before Christmas. Each post corresponds with the free Family Advent Wreath Devotional, available for download in the LAJ Shop. You can read the first week's post, Hope in the Darkness, here. You can read the second week's post, Peace for the Ravaged, here.
Truth: I'm having a hard time with joy today. I've got a cold (again), it's a dreary day outside, and every time I login to facebook, I see a prayer request for another bad situation.
Lives lost too soon.
Families left behind.
Wildfires running rampant.
Inoperable brain tumors.
Brilliant minds falling to dementia.
Marriages torn by divorce.
Children left fatherless.
Friends losing jobs.
And that's just what's happening in the lives of people that I know personally. In the rest of the world, things are far worse. War. Churches being bombed. Children buried under rubble. Civilians being executed.
The bad news is relentless. And in the face of such an overwhelming flood, it's nearly impossible to keep your head above water. Another wave is bound to come crashing down soon.
But it's into this fray that Christmas comes. And that, dear friends, is where our hope and joy are found. The promise of the gospel is not that we would never know suffering or feel pain but that he has seen our suffering and known our pain, and he has entered into it with us. The wonder of Christmas is that God Almighty came down. When we cried out for help, he came running.
Jesus is the joy of our salvation. He's our rescuer sent from heaven. He's our help in times of deepest need. He's the promise of aid on the horizon. When your current circumstances obscure joy, remember this: Christ has come. Christ has risen. And Christ will come again.
When that time comes, he will wipe away every tear from every eye. There will be no more sorrow, no more grief, no more pain. No more sickness or death. We will be with God, and in his presence, no darkness can dwell.
Though the sorrow may last for a night, joy comes in the morning. Morning is coming, sweet friends. And that's good news of great joy, indeed.
Until next time, grace and peace.
O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM
O holy child of Bethlehem!
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today!
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Immanuel.
— Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)