Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When Problems Interrupt Our Joy

I changed channels first thing this morning in my daily routine to check the weather, look at sports scores, and of course, to hear any news concerning events that happened while I was sleeping.  It was an unexpected feeling that came over me, but the first news story I heard this morning was the death of six American servicemen in Afghanistan.  The feeling of sorrow at receiving such news hit me harder than usual.  I realized six families in our country would not be experiencing the joy and happiness of the Christmas season.  Instead they will be attending memorial services for a loved one.

I continued thinking of those families and how difficult their loss must be, especially at this time of year. While those thoughts were still running through my mind and heart, I began listening to the next news story and it was about the loss of 15 homes in a wildfire in California. More losses were expected before they would get the fire under control.  That added to the helpless feeling I was experiencing about more hurting families and those suffering loss during the happiest time of the year. 

My next thoughts were of what I might do to help. I could not bring life back to those brave military members that were killed.  I could do very little in helping to rebuild 15 burned homes.  Then the raw truth hit me.  At the very time when the world pauses to recognize and celebrate the baby, born of a virgin in Bethlehem's stable,  there are many in my world, and even in my city, that will not be happy and smiling at Christmas.  It may be a tragic death in your family, the loss of a job, a damaged relationship, a financial setback, or countless other events.  

What do I do when the joy and happiness of the season are interrupted by bad things?

I know what the Bible says about such incidents, but I also know sometimes the hurt is so great, even biblical principles seem so impossible.  Look at this one from James 1, " Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  See what I mean? Those words are good advice and good principles by which we should live, but our immediate situation seems such an insurmountable difficulty.  

Then I realized I was thinking too much like a person without a relationship with God.  If we really believe the things we profess to believe, surely we can find solutions which will, like James says, "bring us to maturity and completion, not lacking anything."

Let's revisit Bethlehem, and see the wondrous events of the birth of the baby. You may describe that event as the arrival of the promised Messiah, the earthly physical life of Jesus, or the redemption of mankind.  If you follow his life, live by his teachings, develop and cultivate a relationship with him, and allow him to take up residence inside you, of all the blessings you will receive will be your transfer from the hopeless situations of living in the flesh, to the hope which Jesus brings. 

From the occupied manger to the empty tomb, we find answers to life's dilemma.  Yes we will have sorrow and loss, but our hope in Jesus leads us to victory. It is only through him we find our way through troublesome times, and only through him we experience the hope of eternal life.


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