[Jesus said,] â€œBut donâ€™t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.â€Â Â Â Â Â Luke 10:20 (NLT, emphasis mine)
â€œAnd when he has found it [the lost sheep], he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, â€˜Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.â€™ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and havenâ€™t strayed away!â€Â Â Â Â Â Luke 15:5-7 (NLT, emphasis mine)
We hear the word â€œrejoiceâ€ frequently this time of year. It is a time that songs and sermons admonish us to REJOICE!
It is also a time of year that it may seem difficult to rejoice. Finances may be tight as people have no job or a cutback in hours and the price of food, gas, and other necessities rise. It may be a time when a loved one is absent because they are fulfilling their responsibilities in military service or a civilian job, or maybe they have died and their absence is keenly felt at this season. â€œRejoicingâ€ just does not seem to fit the time as much as others may insist or even you may wish it could be.
Might I suggest a shift in focus? Instead of thinking of parties and mounds of gifts, overeating and jolly conversations in a roomful of people, allow your mind to focus on Jesusâ€™ words. Emmanuel, God-in-the-flesh came to earth not to bring us presents like socks and video games but to bring us a way to live eternally with our Creator. He came as the sacrifice to atone for our sins. Jesus tells His disciples in both of these passages that knowing God and living in a relationship with Him is more important than anything else. It is in this relationship that I can bring my difficulties to the One, the only One, who can answer my questions, encourage me, and lift me out of any sadness that I am experiencing.
â€œRejoiceâ€. â€œBe gladâ€. â€œSee the joyâ€ that is in your relationship with Jesus who is faithful whatever season you are living in. The giving of gifts is a wonderful tradition but will be hollow (a beautifully wrapped empty box!) without bringing Jesus to all those that you love. You can only share with others what you already have. If you are feeling a bit â€˜lowâ€™ or â€˜emptyâ€™ this holiday season, then receive the free gift of Jesus and allow Him to soak you in His Spirit, comforting and healing in ways and depths that you never imagine. Then give, what you have freely been given.
You Raise Me Up by Rolf Lefland and Brendan Graham, sung by Josh Groban