In the lives of people I know, there isn’t much “Joy to the World” right now.
A mother died far before her time.
A husband heard the words, “I’m leaving you.”
A family didn’t hear the heartbeat.
I know you have your own story too, because everyone has something hard. Actually, one of my least-favorite promises of Jesus is that “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33)—and I see it fulfilled constantly. From a son’s suicidal tendencies to struggling with depression, from a chronic illness to compulsive addiction, from infertility to loneliness.
Still at this time of year, it feels as if you are expected to set aside reality. You should ignore your pain, slap a bow on it, and smile. But how will your life ever be merry and bright when your world is shaking, when your heart is breaking, and when you cry yourself to sleep? How will you ever sing “Joy to the World” when you’re under spiritual attack?
Mind if I share a secret, which really shouldn’t be a secret? You’ll be able to sing “Joy to the World” because it wasn’t written for when Jesus came the first time. It was written for when Jesus comes the second time. (You don’t believe me? Google it; it’s true.) It was written to remind you that while right now things are miserable and you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, you do know how your story ends. Jesus came the first time to live and die for you one time so that you can live with him for all time. And that gives you hope, a deep hope in your soul that cries out to God to send Jesus back quickly.
So this Christmas, when it’s hard, go ahead and grieve. But “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:13,14). Grieve with hope. Because one day there really will be ultimate joy to the world.
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who doesn’t want you to always believe everything Google tells you. And she also prays that, in the middle of your pain, you have a peace that goes beyond all understanding, thanks to Jesus.