This is week three of the Advent Season. Much like Lent, believers would fast and pray from mid-November until Christmas. Originally, it was a time for believers to prepare themselves for baptism, but during the Middle Ages, the focus changed to the Second Coming of Jesus. Only in recent years has the focus changed to the Nativity.
It’s been a tough year. A Murphy’s Law kind of year: If it can go wrong, it will. Or rather did.
Okay, to be honest, not everything went wrong. Every one of us can look back at the last twelve months and find a sprig of fun or love or joy. Sure, you might have to look harder for it this year, but the moments are there.
But does that mean that joy is gone? Is this Christmas season, this season of joy, just something we need to sludge our way through and pretend to be happy?
Happiness is less an emotion and more a decision, a decision to bear with one another. ~Max Lucado, How Happiness Happens
Where Is God in This Season of Joy?
Grumpy people surround us. Covid, individual state requirements to keep infection numbers down, job closures or limitations, election news. Add in all the normal chaos of illnesses, job losses, natural disasters, and tragedies, and life seeems more difficult than normal.
- How can God be good and allow this?
- Can He not control what’s happening?
- Does He even care?
A different perspective.
Be honest with yourself for a moment. It’s okay God already knows your answers. When you read those questions above, was your first thought about the neighbor three doors down or about yourself? Do you have any idea how people affected by the last hurricane or fire to hit the news are surviving, or are you completely consumed by what’s going on in your own home?
This is the season of joy, if you want it to be. Christmas is the season of joy because out of incredible love that we cannot completely understand, we can remember that God in His love sent Jesus to earth. Jesus in His love was obedient all the way to His death on the cross. And if that wasn’t already enough, the Holy Spirit in His love lives within those who accept these truths. The full meaning behind those actions convey more joy than we realize most of the time. And it should so fill us that it splashes over onto those around us.
Books That May Help
If you struggle to live in joy this holiday season, a fresh perspective from someone who has been there can help. Our enemy wants us to believe that we are alone, but we never are. We not only have the Holy Spirit, but others on this earth have struggled where you struggled, faced what you face, journeyed past where you feel stuck.
Here are some books that may offer a life-changing, joy-filled view that you need this Christmas.
208 pages. Paperback, eBook, and audiobook versions.God is good, God does good, and oh, how He wants you to be happy. In her new book, Lisa Harper unveils that happiness is a gift from God that we can unashamedly enjoy. Happiness tends to be cast as a fluffy emotion without substance rather than a biblical concept, but this is not theologically accurate. Wearing the twin hats of both seminarian and belly-laughing adoptive mom, Lisa Harper dismantles the old-school idea that joy, not happiness, is the truly spiritual emotion, and asserts that Christ-followers are actually called to happiness. (NOTE: You can read my thoughts on this book by clicking here.)
How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectation by Max Lucado
240 pages. Hardcover, paperback, eBook, and audiobook versions. These are tough times. Amid global isolation, economic downturn, and social unrest, could you use a dose of happy right about now? Learn the secret to lasting joy that will endure through any season of life. In How Happiness Happens, Max Lucado shares the unexpected path to a lasting happiness, one that produces reliable joy amidst any life circumstance. Based on the teachings of Jesus and backed by modern research, this book presents a surprising but practical way of living that will change you from the inside out.
240 pages. Hardcover, paperback, eBook, and audiobook versions.How can you keep your energy, happiness, creativity, and relationships fresh and thriving in the midst of never-ending family demands, career pressures, and the stress of everyday life? In Sacred Rest, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a board-certified internal medicine doctor, reveals why rest in seven critical categories can no longer remain optional. Sacred Rest combines the science of rest, the spirituality of rest, the gifts of rest, and the resulting fruit of rest. It shows rest as something sacred, valuable, and worthy of our respect. (NOTE: You can read my thoughts on this book by clicking here.)
No one’s happiness is based on luck if his or her joy is genuine. Happy is not the result of happenstance. ~Lisa Harper, The Sacrament of Happy
Walking through difficult times is, well, difficult. Sometimes just finding the strength to get out of bed is more than we want to do. It’s okay to cry and doubt and wrestle with the Almighty as you walk through your pain. But we were not made to forever wallow in despair. Wandering around the world without any joy is not your legacy.
This Christmas season, I’m praying that you find more and greater joy than ever before.