Christmas can be a bitter-sweet time of year for a lot of people, myself included. There’s either family conflict, or gift-giving puts a financial strain on your pocket book, or there’s a loved one who will be missed. Sometimes we can go longing for the “Joy of the Season”, wishing it would just appear out of thin air in spite of all the muck in our lives.
However, the truth is, God has offered us joy that is eternal, never failing, and ever present. This joy is found only in the person of Jesus Christ, the REAL reason for celebrating CHRISTmas.
One tradition I’ve had at Christmas time is to send out a Christmas letter to friends and family. This year, I included a verse that isn’t necessarily “Christmas-y”, but it embraces the message of hope and joy that so many of us need to hear when stuggling through the holidays:
“All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is by his boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again. Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. It will be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — and your faith is far more precious to God than mere
gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him, you trust him; and even now you are happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy. Your reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9
If you are wondering where the joy is, know this: True joy is found only in the cross. The church celebrates the birth of the God-child, born in a stable- but it is his ministry, death, and resurrection that give us a TRUE reason to celebrate. He came to give us life, and to have it more abundantly. This is God’s gift to us- better than any gift you could find under the tree!
No matter how hard it is for you and your families this time of year, I pray you all find true joy- the joy of salvation. May God bless you- and Merry Christmas.