ADVENT CONNECTIONS: JOY

This fall it has been my great pleasure and privilege to co-lead a Beth Moore study on the book of Esther.  As our class studied and learned together, we examined the role fear played in the story of Esther.  In order to fulfill the role God had for her, Esther had to overcome her fear of death.  (If you don’t know the story of Esther, you can read about it in the Old Testament in the book called Esther.  It’s a thriller!)  We realized that fear also plays a part in the lives of many women today.  Many of us are afraid of something, and many of us are afraid of many things.  We fear the loss of a loved one, the loss of employment, the loss of health, the loss of youth; name the loss and we fear it.  Much of the time our fears do not materialize.  Yet sometimes they do, and that just fuels our ongoing battle with fear and the control it exerts over us.

As I contemplated the Christmas story, and the Advent theme JOY, I was struck by a familiar Christmas passage.  Luke 2:10-11 reads: But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

I realize the angel was talking to the shepherds in that passage, and telling them not to be afraid of the heavenly visitors they were unbelievably seeing,  but I think those verses are also intended for us.  We do not need to live in fear, because Jesus has come to bring us joy.

What does that mean, exactly?  How could I possibly live with joy if my worst fear materialized?  And how I can not fear when terrible things do, in fact, happen?  The answer is trust.  Not trust that the worst will not happen, because it might, and if my faith is based on the worst never occurring I will be lost if it does.  This trust is based on knowing that no matter what happens, even if it is painful beyond imagining, I am not alone.  Nothing can separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).  This trust is also based on the belief that God is in control, even when it doesn’t feel like that could possibly be true.  (Psalm 33:11)  It  also comes from  knowing that his plans are always for good. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Sometimes life is excruciating.  That statement is true.  What is also true is this:  God is in control, He loves us beyond imagining, He wants the best for us, and He will never leave us.  Those truths, if we really believe them, can free us from the fear of “What if…” and release us to live with joy.

Prayer:  Kind and Gracious Father, thank you for the gift of your son.  Help us to live with joy, knowing you do not want us to fear, but to trust.  We know you are trustworthy, even if we can’t understand the circumstances we live with.  Thank you for loving us always.

Try listening to Bebo Norman, “God of my Everything”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TfV6nOVCUk

Contributed by Karen Vine

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