Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! (Luke 2:10, TPT)
Most would probably agree the world in 2020 has not been full of “joyous news.” The daily news is full of scandals, global pandemic, devision, hate, crime–do I need to continue? Death is all around us. Many have been furloughed or lost employment. Even as I write I think about the many stories we have heard this year as we have distributed hundreds of thousands of pounds of groceries throughout our region. I can hear the kids screaming for joy when they got their food because they knew they had groceries for a while longer.
Thinking about our present circumstances, I also consider the times of Jesus’ birth. There was political upheaval, everyone busy about fulfilling government mandates, and the government-ordered murder of two-year-old and younger boys. Herod the Great was a paranoid leader, even killing some of his own family because of “treason.” Joseph and Mary even fled to Egypt to escape the treacherous times.
To borrow the quote from Charles Dickens, “it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.” In the midst of great darkness, a light was shining (Isa 9:2). It was not necessarily a light shining from the manger, glowing around the baby–but a spiritual light. The one who spoke, “Let there be light,” in Genesis, was now the Light of the World (John 8:12). The baby lying in an animal watering trough was the River of Living Water (John 7:37-38). In the barn where animals ate was Christ, the Bread of Life (John 6:35). In the pastures lay the Great Shepherd (John 10:11, Psalm 23).
Jesus was not the “joyful news” everyone was looking for. They wanted a ruler, someone to stop the madness of the time, and all they got was a baby. What would an insignificant, innocent, powerless baby do for their desperate situation?
In the midst of this year, full of its disappointments and hurdles, Jesus has still been speaking. He’s not a baby in a manger any more. He’s seated on the throne of glory, ruling all things by the word of His power (Her 1:3), over every principality and power (Eph 1:21). To those who receive Him, find joy and rest in the midst of storms of life. He captivates the attention of those who look upon Him with humility. He is the desire of those who see His goodness. Though life’s storms continue to tumult, with Him I can find rest and peace on the storm-tossed boat. Can you hear the whisper of His voice in the midst of the storm? “Peace.”
As I think about this year and how I have seen Christ in the insignificant, simple, ordinary places, I am reminded of how He came at His birth. It was simple, ordinary, even insignificant to the usual onlooker, but to those who came and worshipped He was the King of kings and Lord of lords. So in Christ I find 2020 to be a year of great triumph and great victory. I see the lives that were changed and affected by the Gospel ministry. I see the Christ-followers around me that have allowed their roots in Christ and their roots in the church go deeper in the foundation of His Word. I see the supernatural provision of God that has enabled us to continue to minister and serve our community through tangible compassion and virtual ministry. I see the reports of healing, deliverance, encouragement, breakthrough, provision, and so much more throughout our church family and community that have been a part this year’s ministry.
Lastly, I look at how God’s providence has kept me every step of this year, and I look to 2021 knowing “though Satan should buffet, though trials should come; let this blest assurance control. That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and has shed His own blood for my soul.” Knowing that “He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
My friend, Christ is JOY in every season of life. He is not just an idea or trend of joy. He’s not the Hallmark greeting card idea of joy. Christ is JOY! I have good news for you today. To you and to me has been born the Savior. He is the news. He is the joy! And He can be YOUR JOY as we leave 2020 and move into 2021.
Have a Joy-Filled Christmas and a New Year!