"Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
That all their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Joy, unspeakable joy
And overflowing where no tongue can tell
Joy, unspeakable joy
Rises in my soul, never lets me go."
Saturday, December 20, 2014
The true meaning of Christmas is often thought to be found in the fleeting happiness of life. Society tells us it exists in riches, well-being, fame, power, achievements, and many other temporal things. This Christmas season, its meaning stares at me in its purest earthly form . . . tears.
Christmas tears that arise from the hearts of fear and loss bear strong witness to the great promise of Christmas. The news of a friend being thrown back onto the battlefield of life to take on the return of cancer; the sudden death of an inspirational father-in-law; the death of a wonderful brother-in-Christ; knowing young children are now father-less; the sudden death of an Igorota sister’s father; the recent loss of a dear uncle; the brokenness of unity within loved ones; all of these produce the tears that drown the flame of happiness during the Christmas season.
Why then do I feel the way I do? Why is my heart leaping in great joy?
Christ never promised us happiness. This is an emotion that comes and goes. Society markets and commercializes Christmas with smiles and laughter, but we all know too well the stark temporary nature of happiness. Where is it after the gifts are opened? More than often it disappears like the Christmas tree that is thrown out into the street mere hours after gifts are opened. This is temporary DNA of happiness.
God promised us something more substantive and everlasting: Joy. Different from happiness, joy is the response of our soul to the great and wonderful discovery of God, and our communion with Him. The birth of Christ makes it possible for us to experience joy, and this is why one can experience it despite the puddles of tears that flow from our heart.
A successful surgery; the legacy my father-in-law left his son and grandchildren; my brother-in-Christ’s recent baptism and acceptance of Christ’s fullness; new found forgiveness and unity; these are real reasons for joy. So, if you know of anyone needing some joy in their life this Christmas season, remind them that Christ loves them and He wants nothing more than for them to experience His joy.
In the words of Chris Tomlin’s song, “Unspeakable Joy”: