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Fighting For Joy At Christmas

I stared at the email again…

In light of the recent situation, your son will NOT be allowed to come home to visit for Christmas.

A fresh reminder of how sick my son is washes over me, and I feel like someone punched me in the stomach. Again. Grief washes over me. Will he ever be well, Lord?

The verses I had read that morning popped into my head:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. - James 1:2-4

Lord...this is so hard! It’s Christmas and my son will not be able to be home with his family. Help me fight for the joy your Word talks about. It really does feel like a fight. How do I do that?

As I’m sitting here, I’m very aware that many of you have a heartache, a joy-stealing situation, that’s going on as well. It just looks different than mine:

This is your first Christmas without someone you loved very deeply. They were your whole world.

Or maybe it’s not a first Christmas...it’s the tenth Christmas. But it feels just as painful as the first.

A loss. A death. A diagnosis. A betrayal. A trauma. An accident. A sick child or spouse. A broken heart. Loneliness. Grief that is only highlighted by the Christmas season.

Lord, help us fight for joy! Show us how.

The answer came and I wasn’t sure what I thought at first. I was listening to a podcast by John Piper and he said...

“The battle for joy is the battle to keep on seeing the glory of Jesus Christ.”

Immediately, in my spirit, these words were added at the end of the statement....

The battle for joy is the battle to keep on seeing the glory of Jesus Christ in the middle of really painful circumstances, even (and especially) at Christmas.

A few more quotes from John Piper:

“I saw the glory of the gospel with the eyes of my heart, and I found joy.”

“The devil’s main business is to keep you from seeing glory in the gospel.”

“Focus on Christ. I wanna see Jesus. Preach to yourselves the promises of God. Run them through your mind, over and over.” - John Piper

Over and over it has been confirmed to me. The answers we desperately seek on finding joy (when it feels so hard) are in God’s Word. They are found in focusing our eyes, our minds, and our aching hearts on Jesus and the glory of the gospel. During this Christmas season, setting our minds on Scripture about the birth, death, resurrection, and the glory of Jesus our King is a healing balm to our wounded hearts.

When we remember Jesus and his glory, and when we really see with our hearts who he is and what he has done for us, a miracle happens in our hearts. As we focus on him in worship and meditation of his Word, our hearts leap for joy, EVEN in our deepest pain.

Here are the verses I used to “preach to myself the promises of God,” and I encourage you to read them aloud and ask God to open your heart to the truth of each one…especially during this Christmas season. He is faithful. God honors a heart that is searching for him (Jeremiah 29:13):

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. - Hebrews 1:3

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:9-11

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. - Galatians 4:4-5

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ - Isaiah 46:10

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. - 1 John 1:5

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. - Mathew 28:6

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted… - Isaiah 61:1b

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. - Psalm 34:18

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. - Psalm 27:13-14

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. - Psalm 16:11 (emphasis mine)

Yes, the miracle of joy in the middle of trials can be found by being in the presence of God, and remembering who Jesus is, and by focusing on his glory. I don’t mean happiness. Happiness is circumstance-based. Joy is not; joy is based on something much deeper.

A quote by Joni Earkeckson Tada:

“Be comforted by this: God did not take His hands off the wheel of your life for a nanosecond. From start to finish, everything followed God’s plan for you. This means your trials have much more meaning than you realize. Your problems have more purpose than you can imagine. Not because God merely uses bad things, but because God intends them so others might be introduced to Jesus through your example. What a high calling for us!”(1)

Do we see this as a high calling?

Wow, that’s hard.

But...what if that were so? What if we could point others to Jesus and his glory by our example through trials? What if by pointing others to his glory, we see his glory more clearly? What if we could experience unexplainable joy when most would see no reason for joy?

Father, may it be so! We ask you to perform this miracle in our hearts this Christmas!

We praise you and we worship you for gift of Jesus to the world, and to our aching hearts!

And may you see HIS glory this Christmas.

Wishing you all joy and peace this Christmas season. We love you,

Michael and Tammy, Ethan, Maya, Gery, Kendyl, and Cole

 

 

Source:
(1) “Your Problems Have Purpose,” by Joni Earkeckson Tada. Proverbs 31 Ministries, Encouragement for Today. Dec. 13, 2016.

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If you are an imperfect wife, mom, daughter, or friend, struggling to stay focused on God in the craziness and find joy in the heartache, then we have something in common. I am a recovering perfectionist and daughter of the King, slowly learning to fully trust the One who sees me just as I am, and is already pleased. I’m so glad you are here.

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