Many, if not all, of us feel some sort of loss or sorrow during this holiday season. Many have lost loved ones, others have bad memories of past events, some feel the sting of regret/guilt, and many more have sorrow for a myriad of other reasons. Truth be told, some of the happiest times are also some of the saddest.
It was the case for Mary and Joseph as well. They were going to be the parents of the Messiah! Yet, their society ostracized them because Mary was pregnant before marriage. They had to endure the loss of friends and family. If that wasn’t enough, they had to run from their home, their families, and their way of life to go to Egypt because the king was trying to kill their baby. Yes, there was much sorrow in the midst of their joy.
So how do we find the joy amidst our sorrow? First, we must understand that joy and happiness are the same thing. Happiness is an outward expression. It is also fleeting. This is because happiness is an emotion. Because of that, it is easily manipulated. Joy is not an emotion. Joy is an inner peace that does not change despite the circumstances we are facing. Joy can coincide with emotions, even sorrow. Joy is something that comes from God. Knowing that God is in control and the he loves us no matter what, gives us the inner peace, even in the darkest of times. Joy is given to us through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.
And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 1:6
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit,…
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit and joy go hand in hand. Without the first, you will not experience the latter because joy is not an emotion, it is something given by God because of your faith. However, there are times when it is hard to access this joy. Our emotions are so overwhelming that we cannot focus on anything else.
Remember, and cling to, the hope that it will not last forever. This is something that is sometimes easier said than done. However, it is this hope that will keep us from diving too far into the pits of despair. It is this hope that will help us to eventually move through all the sorrow.
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 NIV
While we remember that there will come a time when the sorrow will not be so deep, we turn to Jesus. We give him our hurts and ask for his help. It is then that he gives joy in abundance.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy;
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
This joy is not some fleeting emotion that runs away the minute hard times come. It walks through the hard times with you, reminding you of God’s steadfast love and all the things he has done for you. It reminds you that, yes, life is hard but you have a Savior walking with you, comforting you and helping you. No matter what happens, he will be there. It is in Jesus’ presence that you find this joy.
This joy will give you the strength to face your sorrow. It will give you the strength to rise above your sorrow. It will give you the strength to heal.
Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
IF YOU EXPERIENCE SORROW DURING CHRISTMAS
The Christmas season is such a happy season and I struggle with the sorrow that builds up. I know that you love me. Please, fill me with your joy. Let me feel your presence with me as I walk through the healing. I don’t know how long it will take for me to heal, Lord, but I know that with you beside me, I can do it.
IF YOU DO NOT EXPERIENCE SORROW DURING CHRISTMAS
I know that many people experience sorrow during this time of year. They may be lonely, have suffered the loss of a loved one, or had some tragedy befall them during this time of year. Help me to see with your eyes. Help me to see those that are dealing with sorrow and give me the courage to reach out to them. Give me the words to say and the actions to do so that I can be your hands and feet.
- Do you experience sorrow during this time of year? If so, take some time to tell the Lord about them. Ask him to give you joy.
- Do others you know have a hard time during the holidays? Pray about those people. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in responding to their hurt.