Stephanie shows us how we can be in a state of rejoicing year round, not just at Christmas. This is the eighth instalment in Stephanie’s series entitled “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Read Part 1 here.
A Christmas Without The Surprise
How do you feel about surprises?
One Christmas I decided I didn’t’ want to wait until Christmas morning to discover what my parents had bought for me. So I went snooping. And I found my gifts—all of them.
That’s the year I learned what a big part the anticipation plays in the whole process. Opening my gifts that year was a real letdown. After all, I knew what to expect.
While, of course, the Bible contains dozens of prophecies, many of which have been fulfilled, it doesn’t give us a play-by-play of our individual lives—nor would we want it to.
I liked some of the Christmas presents I received the year I went snooping. Others—not so much.
Where Does Joy Come From?
Life is a little like that. Some things bring joy and excitement. Others overwhelm us and make us wonder how we’re going to get through the day. We might think we’d be better prepared for these challenges if we knew about them ahead of time. But it’s more likely that they would rob today of its joy.
And where does the greatest joy come from? Is it based on our circumstances or something else entirely?
Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV) says,
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Deepening Our Faith
I believe there are several reasons God doesn’t let us know what the future holds. As I mentioned, if we knew the heartache and challenges that yet lay ahead, we would miss the joy of the present. Plus, instead of causing our faith to deepen, it would likely make us question the Lord’s character, His goodness.
Plus, our faith grows and deepens over time. The more we learn about the Lord and His character, the more we realize that we can trust Him, the more we realize that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” as it says in Hebrews 11:1(ESV). No matter how many lessons we learn, no matter how many heartaches we overcome, no matter how long we live, we will have unanswered questions until we get to heaven—and that’s alright.
We can learn to “rejoice in the Lord always.” Anticipation and excitement are fleeting and happiness is often dependent on our circumstances. But the joy that God gives is not. Plus, it lasts for all eternity, not merely a few fleeting days or weeks. (In less than a month, all the preparation and excitement of Christmas will be over for another year.)
Now, some of you are facing intense hardship this year. You may not know how God is going to get you through—or if He even cares. All this talk about Christmas gifts, faith, joy, and trust may seem irrelevant.
Philippians 2:5-8 says,”
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Celebrating the Saviour
We celebrate the coming of the Saviour at Christmastime. Before Jesus came as a baby, He dwelt in heaven. He was equal to God. As it says in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” He set aside an existence we can’t even begin to imagine because of His unfathomable love.
Because He came as a servant, lived a sinless life, offered that life as a sacrifice for sin, and rose victorious over sin and death, we can accept the best gift of all, salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. We can anticipate the time when we will dwell with Him for all eternity. And in the meantime, we can rejoice in the lessons He is teaching us and the fact that even our greatest hardships will not last forever. In fact, even challenges and heartaches can draw us closer to God.
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Images courtesy of:
Christmas Gifts – Julia Freeman-Woolpert
Bible – John Evans