All Posts, Blog, Suffering

Joy to the world?

Firstly, Merry Christmas!

Today, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus in our home, as well as the usual traditions of stockings, gifts, and a sensational Christmas lunch. It’s hard to believe that this time last year our hearts were heavy. A potential cancer diagnosis loomed with all of the uncertainty, I had two very young children needing my time and attention, and my dear Nan had passed away a week before Christmas. My eyes were teary. The year ended in darkness.

This year, there is still much darkness across the world. We scroll through our news feed on social media and see it. We have the news on and we hear it. Although I am in remission, I have dark days where I am far from feeling joyful. Memories linger. Body changes (including my curly, crazy hair) have been difficult to adjust to. Despair tries to have the final say. Guilt whispers that it’s all my fault.

Lord, help me.

There are so many going through times of deep darkness. Illnesses that they are walking through daily. Grief that no one can feel, nor hope to understand. Loneliness made worse by a lack of physical contact. Depression that comes over like a cloud and doesn’t shift. Loss where nothing can sew up the gaping hole within. Addictions that give temporary comfort, but never fully satisfy. There are those who do not have a home, who are hungry, who live in fear, who are persecuted, in poverty. There are endless trials and tragedies everywhere.

Lord, help them.

Longing for the darkness to give way to the light.

Lord, help us.

I love that at Christmas there are lights everywhere. We love going on evening strolls with the children to enjoy the many streets lit up with delightful displays of colour and creativity. What a wonderful reminder that Jesus, the light of the world (John 8:12), came into this dark world as a baby. The birth of Jesus has been a focus throughout Advent. I have been amused at watching the nativity figurines move around by the careful imagination and touch of my four-year-old son. A cockerel joined at one point from his collection of animal figurines. It was half the size of Joseph. Terrifying thought. Giant rooster takes over nativity. There’s a headline.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:8-12 NLT

Ok, so there was no giant rooster, but the Lord’s glory had the shepherds terrified. His glory and majesty surrounded them. We can hardly imagine it. Yet, glory and majesty comes to this world as a baby – Jesus Christ. Glory and majesty was displayed as our suffering Saviour Jesus wore a crown made of thorns on the cross. Glory and majesty appeared when He rose from the grave. Glory and majesty was seen as Christ went to heaven and ascended to God the Father’s right hand. As we look for a sign or long for someone to put things right, we need look no further than Jesus.

Good news. Great joy.

For all people.

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room…

There is a lot of anguish and suffering in this world. There is an absence of joy in the lives of a lot of people this Christmas. Many are living without hope. But it doesn’t need to be this way. Jesus is the hope for a hurting world.

He’s not indifferent to our suffering. He came into our world, took on human flesh and lived a life in a world as dark as ours. He was born to live the life we couldn’t live – a perfect, sinless life. He died in our place on the cross – for all of us have sinned against God, and the punishment of sin is death. We all will die – as hard as that is to say, even on Christmas Day. Yet, Christmas Day is the perfect day to say it. Jesus was born to die – for us. Christmas and Easter go together. The manger to the cross. Christ rose from the dead, proving his power and authority over sin and death. He does not leave us in this world alone. When we follow Jesus, we have His Spirit given to us to comfort and guide us.

You are loved by Jesus. I pray that this Christmas you will look to Him. If this year has taught us anything, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Believe and trust in Him to be your hope and firm foundation. Let Him light up the darkness within us and all around. Let 2021 end knowing the true Light of the world is Christ. Let us begin 2022, knowing that Jesus will fill His people with the joy of His presence (Acts 2:28).

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:5 NIV