I love Christmas, I really do! It’s my favorite holiday and my favorite time of year because the air is charged with a different kind of spirit and expectation that something’s coming. Even though I love Christmas and I’ve been listening to Christmas music since way before it was socially acceptable to do so (sorry to anyone who has ridden in my car in the last month), it still seems to sneak up on me, and then pass with more of a fizzle than a bang… so, in expectation of Christmas, and in an effort to get my mind right for the holidays, I am going to do a short devo every day leading up to Christmas built out of some of my favorite Christmas carols. I hope you’ll join me for some or all of these next 12 days of Christmas!
O Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant
Christmas isn’t always the best time of year for a lot of people. Many find it stressful, busy, and tiring. Christmas is a time of year for bringing out old pictures and memories. Christmas is also really good at digging out old hurts and losses. Overall, it’s a season that many feel forced to put on the “holly, jolly Christmas face,” while inside they’re struggling and waiting for it to be over. I love Christmas, but I’m not naive about it. I feel the weight and pressures of the season too. The other day one of my students asked me, “Chase how can you be so happy all the time?” For a second I thought he was being sarcastic, if you know me I’m not exactly a bubbly personality. My response to him was this: My joy is rooted in Jesus, not my circumstances. I’m not necessarily happy all the time, but I’m constantly fighting for joy and hope because I know the bigger story that’s happening in my life.
We have this weird tendency to judge happy people, right? If someone is overly happy all the time we think they are either naive, annoying, or lying. Like if only they knew what life is really like they wouldn’t smile so much. Our society has this strange, cynical prejudice against happy people, but at the same time everyone is working late nights trying to get ahead in their career, spending money on the latest entertainment and technology, and going to doctors to get special pills, all to make them happy. We all want to be happy, but when we see someone who’s actually happy it bugs us. Why are they happy and I’m not? The comparison game begins and we find ourselves more miserable than ever.
The past few years have been some of the most stressful and most painful of my life. The things that made them that way though are also some of the things that have shaped me and have taught me to trust God more than anything else in my life. Suffering shows you how sure your foundation is, and it shows you where you might need to rebuild on something a little firmer. I find joy despite my circumstances because my life is built on the Rock. I find hope in the midst of hard times because when Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” I believe Him (Matthew 11:28 NIV).
I can trust Jesus with my burdens this Christmas because I know He has already carried the ultimate burden at the cross, and has come out triumphant. Jesus is worthy of my trust. He is faithful, even when I am not (2 Timothy 2:13). When the song says “O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,” I am going to Jesus because I know He is the carrier of my burdens. I can come to Him because He was faithful at the cross, and because of that I can put my faith and trust in Him. I can be joyful because “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 ESV). I am triumphant not because I have done anything particularly great myself, but because Jesus has already conquered sin and death, and in Him I am a conquerer (Romans 8:37).
If Christmas is a hard time of year for you, I’m sorry. You aren’t alone in that and I hope you will seek out community in the church to walk through this hard time with you (that’s what the church is for). Above all, I hope that you will take your burdens to Jesus. His words are not only for the people walking around with him 2000 years ago, but they are a present invitation to you. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The things we look to in this life to fulfill us are fickle and fleeting. Only Jesus can offer lasting joy, hope, and life. Put your faith in Jesus this Christmas.
Pray: God, life is hard, but you are good. These things I’m facing can feel like too much at times, but I trust you and I believe you when you say that you can give me rest. Lord, would you help me to trust you, most importantly for salvation in Jesus, but also with everything else in life. Help me to find life and joy rooted in you. Amen.