Excerpt from Pauses for Advent

Read Luke 2:10 – 14

The angel said to [the shep­herds], Do not be afraid; for see — I am bring­ing you good news of great joy for all the peo­ple.
—Luke 2:10

Some of us have dif­fi­cul­ty open­ing our­selves to the joy of the Lord when we feel sur­round­ed by suf­fer­ing. We feel as though we must engage with the pain around us, but we for­get to embrace the joy. We find our­selves dis­trust­ful, sus­pi­cious, and even resis­tant to the pos­si­bil­i­ties of expe­ri­enc­ing the joy found in Jesus Christ.

And per­haps we have good rea­son for our reluc­tance. We have been bad­ly hurt and let down in the past. We know that life can be ter­ri­bly unfair, and maybe we strug­gle with a dis­po­si­tion that leans toward despair rather than hope. Per­haps we are scared that if we open our­selves to joy, we will face dis­ap­point­ment. What­ev­er the rea­son, we may find our­selves fear­ing joy. Lit­tle won­der that the angel, when bring­ing the shep­herds good news of great joy, tells them not to be afraid.

Advent invites us to over­come our fear and to receive the joy that Jesus brings. Not only is he a man filled with great joy, but also he wants to share that joy with us. His joy, so evi­dent in his life, is not blind to the pres­ence of suf­fer­ing, evil, and death. Jesus faces these real­i­ties head-on. The joy that he offers has been test­ed by every­thing that so often robs us of ours. Because of Jesus’ life, cru­ci­fix­ion, and res­ur­rec­tion, we can trust that his joy is stronger that all its opponents.

What keeps us from expe­ri­enc­ing joy? May we be will­ing to release our fears and allow the joy of Jesus into our hearts and minds.

Dai­ly Practice

Make a con­scious effort today to rejoice in the good gifts that come your way — a warm cup of cof­fee, the friend­ly face of a loved one, the beau­ty of a sun­rise or sun­set. Receive God’s gift of joy in these moments.

Hud­son, Trevor. Paus­es for Advent: Words of Won­der, (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2017), 47 – 48.

Pho­to by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

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📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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