Merry Christmas & A Prosperous New Year 2023!
Is your heart hurting this Christmas season? Are you missing a loved one? Could it be that you are uncertain about the future, wanting your life to be different, hoping someone would change, in a job you dislike, or just running on empty?
If this is true for you, you are in “trials of various kinds” and scripture tells us to “count it all joy.”
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
This seems rude, doesn’t it? Who tells someone to just “count it all joy” when life is crushing them? On the surface, God’s Word can seem insensitive and preposterous.
Even as a Pastor, I sometimes slip up and think I can judge God. But when God says something that we believe is insensitive, perhaps it is us who are being insensitive. It is time to dig deeper and find out what He is really saying. It is time to stop judging Him and give God His rightful place.
If God the Father is who He says He is, He is God of all. He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, merciful, faithful, and love. I am, decidedly, not any of those things.
Did you catch that last one? The Bible says God is love (1Jn4:8). If He is everything He claims, including love, and He says we can count it all joy during trials, let’s not judge Him and instead accept that it is true…and look for how we can find that joy.
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Jn15:11 And then the next verse He says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
In this Christmas season, Jesus reminds us that joy is not only possible amidst a problem-filled life, but He gives us clues as to how to live in His joy. Here, the clue was to turn outward and love others.
I pay close heed to the “Blessed are” statements throughout scripture. And perhaps my favorite, because it causes me to check my pride and judgementalism, is Jesus’ start to the Sermon on the Mount, the first of the beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Mt5:3 Being poor in spirit is letting God be God and me remembering, in humility, that I am not Him. He is right, His Word is right; I am not.
And this leads me back to reading the Bible for truth, as truth. And now I can see, my faith is/was/will be tested; and if I pass the test in steadfastness, I will realize I was complete, lacking in nothing.
This Christmas I am celebrating, not because my life is perfect on the surface, but because Jesus, the Word become flesh, is perfect. I in Him is joy.
Thank you, Jesus.