It has been a hard couple of years. Covid is ongoing, there has been political strife, and now inflation, supply chain issues, and a limited workforce keep the challenges going. For some, these holidays bring reminders of loss, with loved ones no longer with them.
How is it possible to find joy in circumstances like this?
For others, there are the brief moments of joy as they have parties and get presents, but it is short-lived. Soon the holidays will be over and we will be back to the grind of work, or school, or maybe back to the void (as there are many who are not in school or working).
Where can we go to find joy once the season is over?
This past week the message was focused on where we can go to find joy. And we looked at Luke chapter 2.
But I would like us to look at Luke 2:20.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.Luke 2:20 NIV
The shepherds went back to their lives… back to their jobs… back to the danger, back to the hardships…
But… they were glorifying and praising God for what they had seen and heard.
Even though they got this great news, they still had to go back to their challenging lives. Why rejoice? They were still going to be shepherds. They were still going to be struggling to get by… they were still going to be living dangerously, for little money, and no fame.
And we want to make sure that we don’t miss that joy isn’t about where you are at, it’s about where your joy comes from.
Joy isn’t about where you are at, it’s about where your joy comes from.
Shepherds rejoiced even though their lives would continue to be difficult because finally there was hope for the future! Even though the present would be difficult, they knew that there was a glorious ending coming. They could now look to the future when the present seemed too difficult to get through.
And this is seen throughout the New Testament. We see it in the book of Romans, most notably in chapter 5. When we look at Romans, we see that we can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, and also in our sufferings, which produce perseverance, which produces character, which produces hope. Ultimately, we can rejoice that we have been reconciled (or brought back into a relationship) with God through Jesus.
Even though it may be hard to rejoice because of the your circumstances that are going on around you, and all that you are dealing with, the ability to rejoice isn’t about the place we find ourselves in, but it is all about who we are with… God. The place for joy is any place as long as we are with Jesus.
Because Jesus came over 2000 years ago, we have the opportunity to live for Him. We can be called children of God. We can have God live in us through the Holy Spirit.
If we set our eyes on Jesus, His presence in our lives, and the hope we have for eternity with Him, then we will be able to rejoice in Him everywhere, in all circumstances.
Faith is easy when everything is going your way… yet it is during difficult times that people often see the greatest movements of God. If everything is going fine, then we might begin to believe that we don’t even need God. We can do it on our own. It is during trials that our faith is able to become strong, something that God can use for His glory.
The Savior wasn’t going to save the shepherds from the challenges they were going to face – but He brought salvation to them where they were at – saving them, and us from an eternity in hell and offering them and us an eternity in heaven!
Christmas is a reminder that no matter who you are, no matter what you have done, no matter how high or low you think you are… Christ was born to be your Savior. His good news is for all people.
Jesus has won… He is victorious!
No matter what you are going through, no matter how bad things might seem… Jesus has won… He is victorious! We can rejoice because this is not the end. Jesus has said He will never leave us nor forsake us – He is with us… walking with us through the valley – even carrying us at times. No matter what you are going through, the Good News of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection will help you to find a way to rejoice.
And we can rejoice because we are told that:
“neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Rom. 8:38-39 NIV