The Choice To Rejoice

“Christmas, in this age, doesn’t guarantee merry and bright. Not yet. But it does promise that merriness and brightness are breaking in. Christmas, at its best, gives us a peek of the uncompromised joy that is coming, and as we glimpse it, even from afar, we have a foretaste. Like the apostle Paul, and the man of sorrows himself, we are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). We may be overwhelmingly sorrowful at Christmas, and yet in Christ, by his Spirit, God may give us the wherewithal to rejoice.”

David Mathis

It has been awhile blog friends! So much happening in the real life… we needed a bit of time to quiet down and recharge!

I read this quote earlier in the week and thought it would be a good one to share and reflect on. Tis the season after all for overdoing, overspending, and over-planning. Forced fun. Mandated happiness. Inexplicable nostalgia accompanied by a touch of sadness for days gone by, or days not yet come. It’s a lot to manage.

Do you ever get asked the silly question, “So are you ready for Christmas?” I’ve been asked that a lot lately by friends and mostly the store check-out girl. They always say it in a weird tone, like it’s something to dread, like a root canal. I’m certainly not “ready” in the worldly sense, not by a long shot. The gifts aren’t wrapped, some aren’t even bought yet. The chore list is not tackled. On and on.

I’ll tell you what I am ready for though… some of that “uncompromised joy.” Light in the midst of confusion and darkness. Merriness breaking through. Not in that Paul McCartney Christmas song kind of way, where everyone is ‘simply having a wonderful Christmastime’ (sorry for putting that into your head, it’s truly awful). No, I’m ready to see through the fog of earthly stuff to Jesus Himself who came to be with us right in the thick of it.

Here’s the thing: December can have a really unnatural flow to it if you allow it to. There have been years when I have felt very spiritually out of whack. I would often get sick the week before Christmas. We expect friends and family to tow the line, not stir the pot, embrace traditions, do things our way… it’s a lot to hang on to.

Someone shared this today on Instagram and the light bulb went off in my head:

No disrespect to this lady, but this is pants-on-fire level deception. This is not what we need heading into a new year or ever for that matter. And yet I believe this is part of the reason we all lose our collective minds at Christmas. We think there is something wrong with struggle. We think a calendar flip is going to erase all the junk from our lives.

Friends, can I just say that Christ did not come to this earth so that we would could walk around struggle-less every January. If we expect December or the new year to be struggle-free, we are placing a burden on ourselves that we were never meant to carry. Jesus came to set us free from the power of sin to be sure… but He is clear that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33).

So while we certainly have no call to be joyless or constantly dwelling on our troubles, we also can’t deceive ourselves into thinking they won’t ever come. The Christ child came into a world of unimaginable sorrow to be the light in the midst of it all, because of it all.

Merriness and brightness do break through, and they often do it through the smallest of things. The ornament you hang every year that reminds you of your childhood home. Old family recipes. Watching your kids light a candle in church and hear the Christmas story. God came into our darkness and lit it up. Let this time of year be what it was meant to be, not what we force it to be.

Then pealed the bells, more loud and deep

God is not dead, nor does He sleep

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men

Henry Longfellow