Luke 2:1-20, NIV
In this passage, the Shepherds go through an emotional rollercoaster. First, they are terrified but commanded to be joyful. Obediently, they decide to take action and seek joy instead of turning their backs in fear. Once they find the source of joy (Jesus), they cannot help but spread the word regarding what they have seen! In the end, the shepherds glorify God for everything.
Sometimes in life, we feel more “terrified” then joyful. Our situations play a considerable role in how we feel: happy or sad. Here-in lies our problem–we aren’t always in control of our situations. This often makes people feel anxious, and sometimes even terrified. How then are we guaranteed to feel “merry & bright” around the holidays? Well, we aren’t. We shouldn’t hold ourselves to that expectation either.
While joyfulness and “merry & bright” are often grouped together in this season, they couldn’t be more different. Merry & bright is a transient feeling–and sometimes a little “fake it ’till you make it”. Joy is an attitude, a choice–a “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened.” Put another way, “Merry & bright” is conditional. Something happens and we feel happy or sad as a result. Attitudes like joy, on the other hand–they condition us. They establish a baseline of how much or little you will let the “something” effect you.
We assume, in order to be joyful, we must have full control of our situations. If we can control what happens to us, we can control our consequential feelings. But this sets ourselves up for failure. Even with a “positive life events only” guarantee, we couldn’t even be sure we would always feel happy.
Instead, consistent and enduring joy comes from seeking the Lord and His will. Not trying to control everything ourselves. By submitting ourselves to His plan, we allow ourselves space to put effort into the attitude of joy instead of trying to fabricate a happy situation. By seeking God, we seek joy. “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.” When we make the choice to seek Christ we will find His joy. We won’t be able to stop ourselves from “Spread[ing] the word.”
In this season I pray that whether you feel terrified or joyful, you find the courage to seek Jesus just as the Shepherds did. Happiness is amazing, but it is also transient. Joy is constant, but we must seek it. To seek joy we must seek Jesus! How else are we supposed to find joy in terrifying circumstances? In God, all things are possible. Even discovering the joy in your scary situation.
What is terrifying you this season?
How can you find joy–despite your circumstances–by seeking God?
What action or “Let’s go” do you feel called to this December?
By Ellie Heethuis | Byron Center, MI