You might be familiar with the new colloquialism courtesy of Marie Kondo: “If it doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it!” And while that is easy to say to your closet, it’s sometimes difficult to embrace that conversation when it comes to things that we can’t get rid of; Things like a difficult but necessary job, a toddler having a meltdown, or an antagonizing neighbor, for example. However, Jesus points us to a wise path in 2 Corinthians 12:10. Is there a situation where you need to ask the Lord to give you strength and wisdom to see Him working in the middle of the mess? Take some time to pray and do that right now!
What do you do when life hands you something you weren’t expecting? You may feel fear rush straight to the front of your mind and cause you to fight, flight, or freeze. I imagine Mary felt that same way when she discovered she was chosen to give birth to the Messiah. Still, Mary clung to joy and that joy triumphed over her fear. What are some things that have come up that you weren’t expecting? Would you take a moment to read over Colossians 1:11-12 and make that your prayer today? Ask the Lord to make those words a reality for you in the middle of these unexpected circumstances.
True joy acknowledges fear and pain and hardship and unexpected interruptions and points to something bigger and better. This is the “Good News” in the Christmas story. When Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, he was called Immanuel—God with us. The good news for you today is that no matter where you are and what you’re facing, God is with you! Create some space today to reflect on the Good News of Jesus and how He has changed your life. Sing along to some praise and worship songs with an attitude of gratitude for all He is and has done as you live out Philippians 4:4!
Amid pain and fear, many people become cynical. The cynic has experienced pain and loss and knows fear and decides to set up camp in the middle of it. However, joy keeps looking forward. Whatever disbelief, disappointment, or despair you are facing this Christmas season, remember that even though the unexpected challenges that life brings may not change, you can trust and lean on Jesus to carry you through. Spend some time in prayer today, and let Hebrews 13:8 be an anchor of joy and hope for you. Reach out to a trusted friend and ask them to pray for you to trust Jesus no matter what you face.
Joy, on the far side of fear, reminds us that beauty remains. During Christmas time, we stand in awe of the lights all around us, yet we lose sight of the light inside of us. We lose sight of the light that Jesus shines in our darkness. Be encouraged and challenged today to embrace the hope and joy of Christ in you. As you walk around today, be mindful of the decorative lights around, and when you see one, think of one thing you love about the Lord. Tonight read over John 8:12, pray and ask the Lord to continue shining His light in the middle of dark moments, unexpected circumstances, and unknown roads ahead.
TALK IT OVER
- What are some things that bring you joy?
- How does the Christmas season fuel your faith?
- What are some ways you can bring joy to others this Christmas season?
- What’s been a really difficult, maybe unexpected, thing you’ve been facing lately?
- How have you been able to see Christ at work in your life despite setbacks?
- When you are in the middle of difficult situations, do you tend to lean towards cynicism or joy?
- What scriptures inspire you to trust the Lord in the middle of tough times?