The roast is burnt. A chair is empty. A child is not home. Mom is tired. Dad is hospitalized. The baby is sick. The bank account is depleted. The gift is unremarkable. The flight is cancelled. The ground is brown.
Christmas doesn’t always turn out like what we planned. But neither did the first Christmas.
Mary was pregnant before being married to Joseph. There was no room at the inn. An animal stable (more like cave) had to suffice. A feeding trough substituted for a cradle. No mom or dad surrounded them marveling at the birth of Baby Jesus.
Despite all these obstacles. Mary chose joy as did most of the other host of characters in the Christmas story.
Joseph chose joy though the “scandal” of their marriage and pregnancy was probably rampant throughout the region (Matthew 1:24).
Elizabeth chose joy even though it was her relative who would birth the Savior (Luke 1:42-43).
The shepherds chose joy though they still had to go back to their job of shepherding smelly sheep in the fields (Luke 2:20).
The wise men chose joy though they knew their lives were in danger from King Herod (Matthew 2:12).
Simeon chose joy though his time on earth was almost complete (See Luke 2:25-32).
Unlike the others, King Herod chose a murderous and self-preservation attitude. But what about the residents of Bethlehem and those visiting for the census? What about the innkeeper and his guests? What about King Herod’s chief priests and scribes? They certainly knew the scriptures and prophecy that the king of the Jews would be born in Bethlehem. Yet, there is no record of any of these silent characters running with haste to see Jesus the Savior. Surely they must have heard the good news.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 1:11 ESV).
They either ignored or dismissed the “good news of great joy.”
It’s almost impossible for Americans to miss the fact that Christmas is upon us. However, no one person or holiday expression can guarantee you a Christmas of great joy. Maybe a temporary happiness but never an underlining, everlasting joy. In spite of the adversities of the first Christmas, joy was found in the birth of Baby Jesus. Despite the adversities of the day, that same joy can be found in the Person, Jesus.
For practical ways to choose joy this Christmas:
- Find five things to be thankful for each day.
- Lower your expectations.
- Talk to a trusted friend and share your trials and sorrows.
- Listen to music that uplifts and encourages you.
- Serve others.
- Invite someone to your house or accept another’s invitation.
- Seek out professional help if the joylessness continues.