Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Choosing JOY

Christmas is over. Brilliant lights have been dimmed. Colorful ornaments are packed away. The new year has begun. And hopes were dashed during the holidays. A sense of sadness surrounds me. Why? What happened or didn’t happen to cause such glumness?

I delighted in the expectation of family near and far celebrating together. Experiencing joy. Hearing the good news. Gathering around the table. Sitting around the tree. Listening to carols. It all occurred, but not as I dreamed. 

Instead delight was shrouded in disappointment. Clouded with disagreement. Covered with despair. Veiled in anger. Wrapped in tears. And Jesus visited us anyway.


Angels announced a notable birth (Luke 2:8-14). The promised Savior laid in a manger, come to live with mankind. He entered into the darkness of this world. To live and eventually die to take away the sins of humans. TO SHOW US ALL A BETTER WAY.

Christmas is the celebration of Immanuel, God with us through Jesus Christ. He doesn't leave when the holidays are over. He has promised to be with us always (Matt. 28:20). He lived among us. His death resulted in salvation for us. His resurrection enabled the Holy Spirit to live in us. The result for believers in Him—abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven. So why be glum? Where’s my hope? 

I need to live joyfully, but I’ll be honest. It’s hard to remain joyful when festivities are over. No familiar carols, no special family gatherings, no extra frills. The delight of expectation is over. Or is it? 

We may have concluded with celebrations, but what about remembrances of our God and His promises? Surely we didn't put Him away with our ornaments. Our God wrapped Himself in flesh to live among us, to understand us, to save us from ourselves. He loves us so much. How can we not delight in the expectation of daily life with Him? How can we not simply delight in Him? Joy is possible.

King David experienced despair in life and yet remained confident in the Lord’s promises. Amidst distress he delighted in the Lord. His inspired words redirect my feelings of gloom to joy. If you have encountered any letdowns lately, I pray your discouraged heart will be encouraged with renewed joy in the Lord as you meditate on these words. 

As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. Where can I find him to come and stand before him? 

Take courage, my soul! Do you remember those times when you led a great procession to the Temple on festival days, singing with joy, praising the Lord? Why then be downcast? Why be discouraged and sad? Hope in God! I shall yet praise him again. Yes, I shall again praise him for his help. 

Yet I am standing here depressed and gloomy, but I will meditate upon your kindness... All your waves and billows have gone over me, and floods of sorrow pour upon me like a thundering cataract.  

Yet day by day the Lord also pours out his steadfast love upon me, and through the night I sing his songs and pray to God who gives me life. 

But, O my soul, don’t be discouraged. Don’t be upset. Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise him for all that he will do. He is my help! He is my God!  Psalm 42:1-2, 4-8, 11 (TLB)

Oh, send out your light and your truth—let them lead me. Let them lead me to your Temple on your holy mountain, Zion. There I will go to the altar of God, my exceeding joy, and praise him with my harp. O God—my God! O my soul, why be so gloomy and discouraged? Trust in God! I shall again praise him for his wondrous help; he will make me smile again, for he is my God!  Psalm 43:3-5 (TLB)

And all God’s people said, “AMEN.”

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