Christmas Letter '08: JOY

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
-Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

“Joy to the world,

the Lord is come;

Let Earth receive her King!”

What’s got you down? (Is that a weird way to start a Christmas letter about joy?) We might try to mask it around the friends and family, but in reality most people are going through something right now. Job stuff, financial stuff, relationship stuff. Crazy, messed up planet stuff. Regardless of what it is or why, almost everyone I talk to is going through something. And if we’re not now, we certainly will at some point. Welcome to a sinful, fallen world.

To be honest, for me this year kind of started where last year left off. I struggled to maintain the eternal perspective I long for, but couldn’t seem to get past some circumstances I wasn’t thrilled with. It bothered me more than I can express to realize at one point I was just going through the motions spiritually. I was seriously going through some stuff.

But in late summer, while half-heartedly viewing a video series, something finally clicked for me. Joy. Not the short-lived, temporary “happiness” we often seek in people and position and stuff, but a real and lasting joy that goes infinitely beyond all that, even in the face of trouble. We cannot find true joy or lasting happiness anywhere but in the Lord alone, and I was focused in the wrong direction.

How I missed this before I don’t know (how many times have I said that?), but things really began to change for me once I acknowledged God in this. He began working in me in all kinds of ways, and I truly started trusting Him in every situation, even the frustrating ones that didn’t change at all. I learned more of what it it means to see Him as Provider and Sustainer (especially given that hubby’s job situation suddenly changed this year), the source of every blessing and all good gifts, and what it means to give thanks in all things.

Of course, all this was contingent upon truly knowing the Lord. Not just knowing about Him. Not just giving a nod to God a few times a year, maybe showing up at church or mumbling a prayer when things get scary, but really knowing Him.

Consider this—what we actually celebrate at Christmas isn’t presents and food and family time, though all those can be wonderful gifts of God. What we actually celebrate is God coming to Earth. He lived among us and understands our struggles. He taught a radical message of love in what it means to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and then “love your neighbor as yourself.” And He died for anyone who will believe and trust Him for it, all to restore our relationship with Him that was severed by our own willful disobedience, then returned to life proving again He truly is God.

Jesus did all that. That’s Who we celebrate and why we celebrate, because of the Joy only He could bring through a life only He can offer us.

If you know Him, never forget this. Dwell on Him as the heart of your holiday, and trust Him completely as you find your Joy in Him alone.

If you don’t know Him and you feel He’s calling you, accept the call. Receive your King. Make this Christmas one worth remembering, one worth celebrating and one full of the only true and lasting joy mankind can ever know—the Joy of the Lord.

Merry Christmas

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