The Season of Joy

This is supposed to be the season of joy to the world, peace on earth and good will to all. In the midst of the busyness and chaos of the holidays we encounter messages telling us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas but are at the same time told each of us should embrace “our own truth” and identity. So we end up running to and fro, here and there to shop, get Christmas cards sent, attend holiday parties, exchange gifts, and eat and drink to excess. Then, when it’s all over, far too many will look at the leftovers, torn wrapping paper and stacks of newly acquired stuff  only to discover the same emptiness, discontent and depression in life that existed before the holiday season.

Then, when it’s all over, far too many will look at the leftovers, torn wrapping paper and stacks of newly acquired stuff  only to discover the same emptiness, discontent and depression in life that existed before the holiday season.

Happiness and contentment cannot be found in things. Nor can they be found in other people. And perhaps one of the biggest lies around today is that they can be found in our own heads and hearts independent of anything external. Joy, satisfaction, fulfillment and inner peace can only be found by discovering, embracing and living out the true purpose of our existence. That purpose isn’t being a good boss, good worker, good parent, good friend or good anything. No. Our Creator made us to have fellowship with Him, and every day we try to fill that God-shaped hole in our lives with other temporary things and purposes is a day lost in the abundant life God wants us to enjoy. Let me explain.

God Has a Plan For You!

The Bible tells us God has a plan for our lives. If you know this, have a personal relationship with God and enjoy His presence in your life day after day, fantastic! But if you don’t, the Bible tells us that sometimes the “cares of this world” pop up like weeds in the garden of our life and threaten to choke out the purpose for which God made us. Those weeds steal the nutrients of our life’s soil and get so thick that we can’t even see anything else. Sadly, the holidays often become a prime growing season for the weeds of life. They show up as “cares of the season” to keep us from enjoying God’s peace and fellowship, hiding the reason He made us in well-intentioned busyness  associated with human-made traditions and obligations. Sometimes it can seem like the harder we try to make other people have a merry Christmas, the less merry we become in the process. So what can we do?

The first step in correcting a course is recognizing the path we’re on is heading the wrong way. God has a way of letting us know if we’re on or off course in life. He’ll nudge us, sometimes by way of conscience and others by way of circumstances, to remind us when we aren’t aligned with His divine plans. Some of us may require something extreme to point that out. In my case, God used a large and angry grizzly bear to get my attention. In the Bible, Jonah was reminded by a very large fish, Samson by an aggressive cosmetologist, Saul by a blinding light from heaven – you get the idea. My hope for you is that God won’t need to deploy extreme measures to get your attention as He did mine but that something simpler, perhaps reading this blog post, will result in needed introspection that leads to course correction. That would hurt less. In any case, admitting the problem is step one.

Seeking God

Once we identify the need for a change of heart and mind, the Bible says all we need to do is ask God what He desires of us. In James 1:5 we read, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” That’s pretty straightforward but it makes perfect sense. He’s our loving Heavenly Father and what good parent doesn’t immediately respond to a child who asks, “Mom, Dad, what should I do?” As Jesus observed in Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

If lack of holiday cheer in your life is a problem, do what you would with any challenge. Seek solutions. God loves seekers. The Bible says He is always on the lookout for those sincerely looking for Him.

Isaiah 55:6-7 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” I don’t know about you, but I feel better every time I hear that verse. Think about that scripture every time you see a yard display, bumper sticker or sign that reads “Wise men still seek Him” this Christmas. And let’s not forget Jesus words, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” If we seek joy and happiness, we need to begin by looking to Jesus for it and do so confidently because He also said, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” He promised never to turn away a sincere heart coming to Him.

Don’t Let Anything Rob Your Joy

Let’s remind ourselves of these things when the holiday rush threatens to get us down. And let’s also be sensitive to those around us who are struggling. Maybe it’s a first Christmas without a loved one. Perhaps a job was lost. Maybe a recent visit to the doctor resulted in bad news. There are lots of ways the enemy of our souls will try to rob us and others of the joy of the season. Don’t let him. Because the Bible tells us how things will end and it won’t go well for the devil. But for those who love God and are called according to His purpose, the real joy of fellowship with God – the very reason Jesus came that first Christmas – will be everlasting.

From the whole team here at Bear Man, may you have a truly merry Christmas and purpose-filled New Year!

 

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All scriptures used in this blog are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.