Finding Joy This Christmas

Like most of you, I am listening to Christmas songs every day. And for some reason, the words “joy” and “rejoice” have been speaking to my heart. So—because I have nothing better to do with my time—I decided to find out how many Christmas songs have those words in the lyrics. At last count there were fifty!!! So I started thinking to myself, there must be a reason why these words are used so much. I mean the obvious reason is the birth of Jesus, but I think it is so much more than that.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:10-14

Talk about a spectacular birth announcement!!!! Can you just imagine how those shepherds felt when they heard the good news? They were afraid at first, but then their fear turned to joy! They had a front row seat hearing about the birth of a new born King—and not just any King—He was the Savior of the world! For years the Jews had been waiting for their Messiah to be born—and when the news of His birth finally came—God chose to reveal it to the shepherds. Their evening was changed in an instant! I can picture them looking at each other, dropping their staffs, and running toward the stable to see their newborn King!

“The Lord will appear. The Lord sees. And He will see to it. And He will be seen.”Voskamp And that night was a night like no other. I can’t even imagine what they felt like gazing at the baby. I’m sure they couldn’t believe it! I can imagine them thinking, “Why were we chosen to witness this birth? That baby over there—born in this place—is our King? Why isn’t He in fine surroundings? What is He doing here with us? What in the world is happening here? This isn’t what I pictured the arrival of our King was going to look like.”

And isn’t it just like us to think that way. In our minds, we picture what we think things should look like or how things are supposed to happen. We have our agendas all planned out because it makes us feel better to have control over what is going to happen. Ann Voskamp says, “When we have an agenda for God, we can’t see the gifts from God.” So true!

There is a story in the Old Testament about a woman named Ruth. She had a very close bond with her mother-in-law Naomi. They both lost their husbands and were left alone without a way to support themselves. So, they decided to return to Naomi’s original home which happened to be the city of Bethlehem. Ruth had to find a way to feed them, so Naomi told her to work in a field for a man named Boaz. (She was doing a little matchmaking and it worked!) Boaz and Ruth marry and have a son named Obed. He marries and has a son named Jesse, who has a son named David, who becomes the greatest king in Israel’s history. And then many years later, a man named Joseph has a son named Jesus, who is no ordinary baby–He is the face of God–Savior to the world!

My point in mentioning all of this to you is…. no matter what our plans are or whatever has happened to us, God has an agenda for us that is far better and greater than ours could ever be! Even in tragedy, He is working on our behalf. Even though sometimes it is hard to understand or see, God is working. “God comes through mangers. The mundane holds miracles. Every little thing is going to be okay—You have a Kinsman-Redeemer who takes you and is redeeming everything. The miracle of gifts is always unfolding under the impossibles.” Voskamp

“Joys are always on their way to us. They are always traveling to us through the darkness of the night. There is never a night when they are not coming.” Amy Carmichael  I know that is a concept that is hard to grasp sometimes. At times, I have a hard time comprehending it. But— when I look back at Ruth—it isn’t so hard to see. Even though she experienced the death of a husband, a move to a different city and culture and being destitute—she met a man who wanted to marry her and take care of her. She then had a child who became a descendant of Jesus! God redeemed her situation.

The great thing is that God can use any situation and bring joy from it. We have to turn our focus off of ourselves and on Him. It has taken me my whole life to do this! When I decided eighteen years ago to go after God in a way I never had before, He changed me. He has given me the assurance that no matter what happens, He is right there with me. I have gone through a lot of trauma in my life. Trauma that brought on intense pain. Trauma that caused many emotional issues. Trauma that I never thought would end. But because Jesus is in the business of redeeming—He is turning it around and I am getting stronger every day. He is redeeming my past. God greets me every morning and shows me who He is. My joy comes from my relationship with Him. He is my JOY!

If we want joy, we have to let our agendas go! We have to let our dreams go! We have to let our expectations go! We simply have to or we aren’t going to see the gifts from God and experience joy! I can testify to that. I have learned to say something like this. “Lord, I would really like for such and such to happen or so and so to change. But no matter what, please keep me focused on You and your will for me. If that isn’t what You want for me, then I don’t want it! I place it in your hands and You do what is best. Help me to let it go and trust you with it!” After 58 hard years on this earth, I am finally learning to do this. I am constantly asking Him to redeem things and turn them into good. I want to have joy despite my circumstances or the people in my life.

“Looking comes first if you’re ever to find the life you want, if you are ever to ”see you a king.” Always, always—first the eyes. Joy is a function of gratitude, and gratitude is a function of perspective. You only begin to change your life when you begin to change the way you see.” Voskamp

“You only begin to change your life when you begin to change the way you see” is truth! My life has changed because I have changed the way I see. I pray this Christmas season, you will be able to see Jesus’ birth with a changed perspective. I pray you will look at Him as our great kinsman-redeemer and experience joy like never before!

Before I end, let me share with you what kinsman-redeemer means. “In the New Testament Christ is often regarded as an example of a kinsman-redeemer because, as our brother, He also redeems us because of our great need, one that only He can satisfy. In Ruth 3:9, we see a beautiful and poignant picture of Ruth, unable to rescue herself, requesting of Boaz to be her kinsman-redeemer; that he cover her with his protection, redeem her, and make her his wife. In the same way, the Lord Jesus Christ bought us for Himself, out of the curse, out of our destitution; made us His own beloved bride; and blessed us for all generations. He is the true kinsman-redeemer of all who call on Him in faith.”

Merry Christmas dear friends! May you be filled with joy and wonder when you look at Jesus! Until next time……

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