Christmas Eve at the church I have attended for over 25 years is special. After a meaningful sermon, the lights are extinguished; then, from a single lit candle, we continue lighting each other’s candles until the entire room is filled with light that originated from that single candle as we sing “Silent Night.” In doing this collective action, we pause to remember that Jesus is the Light of the world. The service is ended with the singing of “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” That phrase from the beloved Christmas carol, is profound, because, since Jesus was born, we can have true joy…joy that is not based on circumstances…but the kind of joy that brings delight and satisfaction in knowing that regardless of our circumstances, God is in control of the entire world.
In the original Christmas story, Joseph experienced joy. Let’s think about his situation for a moment. How did he feel when he found out Mary was going to have a baby? He loved her, yet he was very troubled and didn’t know what to do when he heard she was going to have a baby. God sent an angel to speak to Joseph in a dream. He said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21. As soon as Joseph woke up, he felt reassured and quickly did what the angel told him to do.
When life gets hard and even painful, we would do well to remember Joseph. When things go wrong, it could be that God is doing something remarkable – we just can’t see it yet. God can take our disappointments, hurts and pain and use them to bless us but also so that we can bless others too. What if Joseph had walked away from Mary, leaving her as a single mom? What joy would he have missed? God’s greatest work often comes out of the journeys we don’t want to take. We can be overwhelmed with joy, when we view life through the lens of faith, and not on our circumstances.
Prayer: Dear God, I want the joy of the Lord to be my strength, like Joseph. Father, allow others to see Your joy overflowing in me. Amen.