Tidings of Comfort and Joy
God rest ye merry, gentlemen Let nothing you dismay Remember, Christ, our Saviour Was born on Christmas day To save us all from Satan's power When we were gone astray O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy O tidings of comfort and joy
I absolutely love Christmas…the sparkling decorations, the twinkling lights, the smells of hot chocolate, peppermint and gingerbread, the sounds of carols rejoicing in the birth of Christ and sharing time with the ones we love! Amidst the hustle and bustle of purchasing gifts, baking cookies and preparing for the perfect Christmas Eve dinner, I have to stop what I am doing and truly recognize the peace of the season, the true comfort and joy of knowing that we get the opportunity to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the World. For some, Christmas is filled with happy memories, while for others it can be a time of great sorrow. Actually, I know quite a few people that are having to experience a first Christmas without a loved one, my family included, and for them I am offering you this tiny nugget of hope.
In January of this year my family had to say good bye to my grandfather. All of us grandchildren called him Tata. Both he and my Nana are the reason why our family became believers in Christ. I used to love going to church with them. They taught me old hymns in Spanish and we would sing them together, my favorite was “How Great Thou Art”. They taught me how to worship the Lord; it is embedded in my soul even until this day, and for that I am forever grateful.
Even though I am experiencing the sadness of being unable to see or talk to my Tata on Christmas morning, I have the comfort in knowing that he is in Heaven. The humility of the Lord, coming to the Earth as a child so that He may seek and save the lost, brings me hope that one of these days I will be reunited with my grandfather. There is joy in knowing that the time we have here on Earth is temporary and that I can look forward to eternity.
In the book of Nehemiah, it says, “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10). This makes me wonder what exactly is the “joy of the Lord”? Well, the Bible says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne” (Hebrews 12:1-2). The joy of the Lord is the hope of Heaven. He endured the cross because of the joy awaiting Him. He could see, that despite His physical pain and circumstance, the existence of eternity was awaiting His arrival. So, when we try so desperately to press beyond our current grief and mourning, we too must hold on to the joy of the Lord because it is our strength. If we focus on the joy of heaven awaiting us, then perhaps it will help us endure the race set before us. That is not to say that we won’t experience the emotional pain, but it may bring a glimmer of hope and healing through the process.
Perhaps right now you may not be ready to focus on the joy of the Lord and perhaps you are very much still crying everyday because you are missing that loved one. That is completely okay. There is no hurry. The Lord meets us where we are at. “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away” (Psalm 139:1-2). God the Father knows what we are experiencing, He is all too familiar with losing a loved one and whenever you are ready, He is standing with open arms.
Some of you reading this may also be thinking, “How can I look forward to the hope of Heaven if I don’t even know if my loved one accepted the Lord before they passed on?” That is a tough question and I don’t know that I have a definitive answer for that. What I do know is that in 2 Timothy it says, “The Lord knows who are is,” and God says in the book of Jeremiah, “But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve." (Jeremiah 17:10). Ultimately, we are not God. We are not judges, and we can never completely know the thoughts, beliefs or desires of others; therefore, we cannot assume whether someone we know may or may not have accepted Christ into their hearts, even on their death bed.
My hearts cry is that as you read this devotion it brings some semblance of peace during what can be a time of business. I pray the calm whispers of carols bring you to a place of worshipping our Savior! As we celebrate the birth of Christ, I pray you discover the time to reflect on the tidings of comfort and joy brought to us in a manger. Merry Christmas!