Out culture shows Christmas as a perpetual happy time. In our minds we create images of people smiling, being comfortable with each other, and celebrating. The reality is that life is hard, not always happy. Sometimes I don’t feel merry when the crowds, traffic, and expenses pile up. Stresses overtake my weary heart. At those times, I have to look beyond the circumstances to experience true joy.
The Nativity story features people with joy in the middle of uncertainty and darkness.
Mary was in a difficult life situation. However, she trusted the Lord.
When she visited Elizabeth, she said,
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46-47 NIV
Shepherds rejoiced with the word from the angels. The message pierced the silence of the night with unexpected joy in the darkness of life.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:10 NIV
Magi followed the star in a long, unpredictable sojourn. They were thrilled when they arrived at the end of the journey.
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2: 10-11 NIV
Jesus brought a new joy that is deeper than circumstantial happiness.
In the manger, God came from heaven as a baby to redeem us. The joy of the Lord is in us through the Holy Spirit in the inner parts of the heart. When we are lonely or scared we have the promise that the joy of the Lord is our strength — not in people or in circumstances.
May we be like Mary, the shepherds and the Magi, and know Christmas joy deep within our hearts!