Friday, December 16, 2016

Finding the joy that was stolen

I was reminded this week that not everyone has joy this Christmas. For some, they just wish it would come and go already. The laughter, the singing, the bells chiming, the whole spirit of love and giving has been stolen and replaced with heartache, gloom and despair.
It came to me first by way of a text message from my beloved daughter. It read, “He’s dead.” My heart stopped for a minute and then I quickly picked the phone up to call her. Thru her broken heart and tears, I heard the words as she told me about her friend who had been missing for a couple of days but had been found dead. Just 25 years old, such a tragedy. The joy of Christmas stolen.
Another reminder came to me during a visit from a lady who stopped by the church this week. They have been out of work and have no food or running water; “is there any way we could help them give their child a Christmas gift?” she asks. The joy of Christmas has been stolen from them.
Soon after this visit, a phone call was received. Cancer has spread and the doctors give no hope. Hospice has been called in. The joy of Christmas has been stolen yet once again.
My heart is more keenly aware this Christmas than any other that for many people the “merry” has been taken out of their Christmas and the “joy” to their world has been snuffed out by sickness, death and tragedy. Many will sit around a Christmas tree this year all alone, while others will not even have a Christmas tree or a present or a meal. I wish I could give to every single one of these that are hurting. I wish I could put my arms around each lonely person and tell them that someone loves them. I wish that I could give a toy to each wanting child. I truly wish I could restore the joy that has been stolen from so many people this Christmas.
While I am just one person, I may touch one or two with my giving but there is only One Who can touch the entire world. Jesus. And isn’t that exactly what happened on that night all those years ago in that stable? Joy was brought to the world. Not for one, not for two – Joy through our Savior was brought for ALL to have and to hold.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10,11)
The same words spoken then are the same words that can bring joy to your world. Even in those moments when your world is shaken up, torn apart and feels like it has been stolen from you, yes even in those moments, joy can be found. None of us enjoy difficulties, or sickness or facing death, but joy my friend, true joy, is not about our enjoyment. Anyone can give you a Christmas treat but that doesn’t mean that you will enjoy it. True joy is not found in Christmas gifts rather it is found in the arms of Jesus.
It is my prayer that this Christmas CAN be different for those hurting, may we all be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and share the joy of Christ and give back to those who have had their joy stolen. After all, that is where we will find CHRISTmas.


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