H. R. Wilson
Friday, Third Week of Advent: Joy
December 20, 2013
Does it seem to you that the past year has been filled more than usual with serious illnesses, mourning the loss of loved ones, economic distress, environmental disasters, wars, political carnage and other woes? How can one remain stable in such an uncertain and depressing time? Is it even possible to be joyful?
God has always made it possible for his people to turn sorrow, distress and weeping into joy in spite of the situation. The Psalmist was aware of this in saying, “In his anger there is distress, in his favor there is life. Tears may linger at nightfall, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Ps 30:5). He more emphatically expressed this by saying, “You have turned my laments into dancing; you have stripped off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that I may sing psalms to you without ceasing. Lord my God, I shall praise you forever.” (Ps 30:11-12) He also said that, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping carrying his bag of seed, will come back with songs of joy, carrying home his sheaves.” (Ps 126:5-6)
Christ warned his disciples that they would be plunged into grief and mourning but that it would be turned to joy. Furthermore, he said that if they asked for anything in his name that it would be granted and that their joy would be complete (Jn 16:20, 23-24). Do we remember to ask? James noted that when we face all types of trials that we should count ourselves supremely happy because such testing of our faith makes for greater endurance (James 1:2-3). Peter and other apostles rejoiced that they had been found worthy to suffer humiliation for the sake of Christ (Acts 5:41). We, no doubt, would prefer to experience less testing than that suffered by the apostles. However, whatever our lot, we can be assured that nothing can remove the joy that we have in Christ.
As we enter into the celebration of Christmas we can again rejoice with the angels for the coming of Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Prayer: Father, we pray that our faith will be strengthened and our joy complete as we celebrate again the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in whose name we ask it. Amen