Got true joy this Christmas Season? As we have received Jesus as our Savior and King of our lives, the Holy Spirit also dwells upon us and the fruit of Peace and Joy would be evident in our lives. Joy is defined as internal and lasting, compared to happiness which is coming from external and only temporary. Since we are still in this world we are faced with challenges that would deplete, drain or steal our Joy. Let’s look at the Christmas Story on how we can respond to these challenges
Challenge#1: Tension (Stress, Anxiety, Worry)
Mary, as a 14 year old bride-to-be, was given the responsibility to bear and raise the Mother of the King of Kings forever, through a miraculous conception. And all her plans for own self her fiancé (Joseph) is not aligned to this. Anyone at this age being suddenly given this comprehensible challenge and daunting responsibility would be overwhelmed with tension, fear and uncertainty.
However, Mary knew who she is, a child and servant of God. With rejoicing, she trusted on God’s plan. Mary understood God’s purpose for her life and did not focus on the problem. Mary looked at the bigger picture; that God’s plan and purpose for her was a fulfilment of God’s promise to David, her ancestor.
Challenge#2: Grudges (Bitterness, Anger, Hatred)
Joseph knew that Mary was with child, but not his. When Joseph knew this, the angel has not revealed Joseph the truth yet. Anyone would have felt betrayed, cheated and deceived by this situation. This might have gone worse if Joseph lets the feeling of anger and revenge take over by shaming Mary or accusing her of adultery. We too tend to carry these worthless grudges and bitterness unknowingly; but and at the end we only hurt ourselves the more.
Still, God’s grace was filled in Joseph’s Heart. He was willing to overflow this same grace to Mary by not putting Mary to shame and to just settle things peacefully. God then saw the heart of loving kindness in Joseph, and asked the Angel to reveal God’s purpose for Joseph, to be the step father of Jesus. And Joseph filled with joy was honoured with this responsibility. Same as what Joseph did, we should overflowing with grace and forgiveness to others since we have received this same grace from God. As we let go of grudges and bitterness, we let God heal us and our relationship with others.
Challenge#3: Off Track
Wise men from the east may have gone off track as they are seeking Jesus. They might even put God’s plan for them at risk by reaching out to the megalomaniac King Herod (historically killing anyone who is a threat to his reign). We too get off track in the distractions of the world. We even sometimes impatiently take control of our destination. Yes, we ask God for direction. But what we really want to know most of the time is our detailed future to our pleasing, which will eventually reduce our dependence to God. We want to be independent; more of I, and less of Him.
Response: On Pace
But then again, even the Wise Men got off track to what God was directing, God continually revealed the light of the star. This light might be moving slowly moving one step at a time, the wise men patiently followed at the same pace as the light. Same thing for us is even sometimes we are stuck in our current situation, we should be patiently walk in God’s pace and direction. Seeking who Jesus really is (from His word, His embracing presence) enables us to joyfully reach the God’s destination for us in His time.
9 Questions to ponder at every season:
What sad memory can you recall, and how did you fill your heart with Joy as you remember it?
Which situation in your life were you overwhelmed with anxiety, fear or tension; and how did you face it?
If God have asked you to do a give up a comfortable status in your life, what would be the most difficult to let go and what will you need to let go?
Can you identify a person that brought you the deepest pain in your life, can you share how you have forgiven this person?
Is there any current grudges or bitterness in your heart that you are still dealing right now, how do you cope up with this?
When was the last instance that you didn’t seek God, what happened to you after and how did you recover from that situation?
Can you recall when did you last give up either earthly wisdom, wealth, status or time just to seek God, similar to the wise men? What was the result after that?
When was the last time you didn’t walk with God at the same pace towards to the destination He had for you? What did you learn from that?
Can you share the situation that you just let go, and let God?