For some of us, the holidays are anything but joyful.
Losses of all kinds stab at unexpected moments. Loss of loved ones, loss of job or security, loss of health.
Anxiety-over finances, children, the future-can hang like a cloud and obscure the light.
Misunderstandings can suddenly blight relationships that seemed to be in full bloom.
But I’m finding that despite all these things–which are real, which need to be acknowledged–joy can break in.
Joy can break in for two reasons.
One, we have a God who does not mind our pain.
A God who, in fact, left the joys of heaven to face our pain-wracked world-firsthand. That’s what the Incarnation is all about.
Jesus, Son of God, came to share our pain, and ultimately, to bear the pain of the whole world in his sacrifice on the cross.
And he invites us to give him our pain. Give it all to him. Cry out to him!
Only he can fully bear it. He wants to. He doesn’t want us to struggle under the weight. That’s why he came.
Second reason joy can break in is: We always have a choice.
We can choose to return unkindness for unkindness, tit for tat.
Or we can choose to return love and forgiveness for unkindnesses and wrongs done to us.
We can choose to reach out from our own loneliness, and ease the loneliness of someone else.
In other words, we can choose love.
When we choose love, something wonderful happens.
Joy breaks in.
Joy despite the pain.
May you know joy this Christmas … and may it spread and flow throughout the coming year.