“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2: 10-11
What would our reactions have been, if without warning, an angel just appeared in front of us and spoke these words to us? If it were me, standing there going about my business knowing there was no one else in my home… honestly that would have caught me off guard and stirred up fear in me too. That fear wouldn’t have lasted long only because I imagine that angel surely filled the room with peace when he announced that he brought good news. How do we prepare to receive our King?
Every year, as we approach Christmastime, Chris (my husband) and I anxiously await when the time feels “socially” acceptable to start putting up our Christmas decorations. I may have mentioned this before, but my husband and I both LOVE Christmas. We not only love the meaning of Christmas, but we truly enjoy embracing it also. We do this by setting aside an evening for just the two of us, we either cook a meal or pick up, we turn on our favorite Christmas tunes (Pentatonix is one of our favorites!), make some hot cocoa (duh!), and FINALLY get to decorate our home and our Christmas tree.
Fun fact: Until the day comes that we have kids, I ask Chris to let ME do the honors of putting the star on the tree… just so I can feel like a kid again (kind of like when you were a kid and wanted to be the one who gets to press the button in the elevator!). And so, until that day comes for our kids to take over this task, Chris lets me feel like a big kid, puts me on his shoulders to put the star on top of our tree. Isn’t that so sweet? Aww. Oh the simple joys.
We also can relate this “preparation and waiting with anticipation” when we are expecting guests in our home. What do we do? We prepare our home. But unlike having guests every once in a while, we can expect and anticipate God and His goodness not just at Christmastime but every day beyond that. I believe that there is a bigger message in the celebration of the birth of Jesus. I believe that just like we wait for that anticipated Christmas day, a day that we already know will be filled with joy… we should also wait on that joy He promised to bring us all the days of our lives. Yes, even during our toughest circumstances, even when it seems like joy is impossible.
This is an ornament my husband gave me in memory of our baby we lost in our first pregnancy in October. We are now in a season of embracing the joys that surround us and the joy that lives within us as we wait on the Lord for His will to be done. For His perfect timing to prevail when He sees best fit for us to become parents.
The birth of Jesus was a time of waiting too. A time of anticipating something greater, something that no one had yet even seen. Someone greater that was going to be born from a virgin. Now that’s a little mind boggling if we truly think about it in human sense.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” 1 Peter 1:8
Before I sit down to type up my blog posts I say a prayer and ask God to give me perspective and clarity that I may shine a light on Him through my writing. This morning as I finally was able to sit down to type up this post, I felt moved to read about what Mary went through leading up to the big day. For whatever reason instead of coming across the Christmas story, I came across this scripture.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. “Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” – John 16: 20-22
God CHOSE Mary. God was very aware of the pain that she would endure to birth His son. And even though she would go through pain, her pain would be turned into joy. Joy was born when Jesus was born. Mary is such an amazing example of what kind of attitude we should have through out periods of waiting, of anticipating something greater.
Just like God chose Mary for THAT task, He also chose each and every one of us for HIS glory as He assigned us our own purpose and mountains to move. And just as joy was on the other side of her pain… joy also awaits us on the top of that mountain. It awaits us each and every day. As the verse states above, “no one” not even the worst of circumstances can take that joy away from us once we feel it, once we receive it, once we choose it.
I am not ashamed to admit that choosing joy in the midst of pain, unknowns, loss and unexpected circumstances, is a LOT easier said than done. And that’s okay… that’s what makes us human and that’s what allows God to work in us. He is not concerned with what our plans are to reach a state of joy. He cares about the current condition of our hearts and that we are practicing the free will He allowed us by choosing Him, JOY.
SO, first things first, we must make room in our hearts for Him to come in with His tools of healing in order to fill it with joy.
How can we make room for Him, for joy?
- Say goodbye to the measuring stick – I don’t know what measuring stick you go by when measuring your joy. Whether it’s social media, acceptance from your family, friends, significant other, your boss, whatever it may be… LET IT GO.
- Turn your eyes away from believing that any of those lies are true of who you are, the importance of your worth or of how bright your future may seem. Take possession of that measuring stick and hand it over to the One who says He has unimaginable things in store for your future, who says you ARE worthy, you ARE significant and you are far more beautiful than rubies (Proverbs 3:15)
2. Turn your eyes away from the lies – Fix your eyes on the joys that surround you today (TODAY is the day He has made, let us rejoice and be glad IN it – Psalm 118:24).
- Focus on how far you have come, count all of THOSE blessings that have already played out.
- Focus on the things that you CAN control and make THOSE changes in your life.
- Pray thankful prayers. Speak gratitude into your life. This way, Your mind and your heart will remain focused on joy, God.
3. Dwell in the things that bring you joy – When we dwell on something that brings us joy, it instantly does that… fills us with joy.
- Spend time with a friend that makes you laugh and speaks words of encouragement to you.
- Make the time you have been wanting for yourself and take even just 30 minutes for the bubble bath you have been longing for.
- Take a time out from your diet and let yourself have that scoop of ice cream or cheesy cheeseburger you’ve been craving so bad. Yes, the bible does mention something like this and even encourages us to share these little joys with others too! – “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10.
4. Rejoice in the “little” things – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4. Don’t wait to have joy dependent on something big, take hold of the joys in ALL things, always, even the smallest of blessings.
- If you find yourself in a funk and it seems like everything is going wrong, take a deep breath and ask yourself what has gone right today? Meditate on the rights vs. the wrongs.
- Rejoice even in the things you may overlook in your day to day. Ex. Your car got you to work safely, you are not sick and are in good health, and speaking of health, you are reading this blog post which means you have eyes that can see!
- Here is my ABSOLUTELY favorite tip (I live by this as much as I possibly can)… LAUGHTER! “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22.
Laughter is FREE, just do it. Giggle away! I don’t have much to say on this other than just that, laugh as much as you can!
What I DO have to say is this… if you have not seen the video of the “Chewbacca mom” or even if you have seen it… just do yourself a favor right now and watch it again. She portrays the perfect example of finding simple joy in something so small and silly… a mask. Her laughter will make YOU laugh. If you don’t do anything else today, just do yourself a favor and click on the link below.
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
So you see my sweet friend, as we spoke about in that last two posts on the “Christmas Words” Hope and Believe, trials and times of heartache WILL come, they are a part of this broken world. As children of our Heavenly Father, we have been commanded to trust Him during these times and count it as joy. He promises that these trials and heartaches will be used for HIS glory, which He will somehow turn it into good for our life, that in turn will result in JOY. He will waste nothing He allows to happen under the heavens.
In His presence, there is fullness of joy.
Just like the seasons throughout the year change, your season will too. Seasons are just that, seasons. We can experience joy anywhere, under every circumstance, if we will just choose to see it and to live by it.
Permanent and pure joy is not dependent on our circumstances, joy is dependent on God. The God who loves us unconditionally, who at all times has the best interest for us, whose joy is unwavering once it is within us.
Today’s encouragement is simple, let’s have the same joyful expectation every day as those before us who waited joyfully, for the birth of our King, Jesus Christ, our Messiah and Savior of the world.
May the reason for this season and His presence always bring you the joy that He longs for you to receive.
“The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the JOY that’s coming.” –Romans 8:18
Merry Christmas to you and your family.