Even in the best of years, beyond Giving Thanks for Past Joys and Finding Beauty in Today’s Joys (see Part 1), there is an ache, a longing. For the “perfect holiday,” sure. And if you’re honest with your memories of yesteryear, it was never really perfect. Even at their best, the temporary joys of this life simply don’t satisfy. And Christmas offers hope for that.
Ache of Evasive Joys
In order to be able to even consider the diamond-in-the-rough joys that surround you, you need to be real about the hard things, knowing that this life — even when you know Christ — is not all happy, cheerful, easy stuff — even around the holidays. Many churches celebrate a time of leading up to Christmas, referred to as “Advent,” which means “coming.” I love this line of “O Little Town of Bethlehem”: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.” The Jews had waited for their Messiah — the first Advent or Coming of Christ — for thousands of years after He was promised. Whatever we’re longing and aching for, it hasn’t been for that long!
Still, we have deep wounds, dark days. Being real about today’s hurts and longings can actually fuel our worship during this season.
Even David, “the man after God’s own heart,” expressed deep frustrations and struggles. The biblical word for David’s (and others’) expressions of difficulty is “lament.” It starts out similar to a complaint or rant, but it ends in hope and praising God.
We all go through struggles, and a godly response acknowledges the pain but also rejoices in the fact that God is bigger than any storm and more fulfilling than any other desire.
Hope for Coming Joys
As we pray over our dashed hopes, unfulfilled longings, very real fears, we can also pray for those aches to transform into a desire for greater communion with Christ, closeness to God. The truth of Christmas and Advent makes a difference, even when it comes to those hopeless situations and fears-that-are-coming-true. God has sent a Rescuer, a Savior! No matter how bleak your story appears today, it isn’t over yet, and if you’re a child of God, it will get to the “Happily Ever After” part! The Old Testament believers, who had yet to know the name of their Messiah, banked on that hope (See Hebrews 11). How much more easily should faith and hope come, for those of us who have documentation about His (first) advent? Our Rescuer has come, and He is coming again!
We can praise Him who brings true joy to the world — not just through past and present joys or through meeting our own imagined ideas of the perfect Christmas celebration, but through His Advent and Emmanuel and His promises, which are coming true and getting closer every day, including Christmas — yes, even this Christmas.