Greetings in the LORD JESUS CHRIST! By now you have run the gambit of feeling and emotions. Grief, loss, betrayal, anger, remorse, discouragement, disappointment, denial, panic, fear, and the list goes on. Christmas may seem like a side note. How does one get into the “Christmas spirit” with all this going on? What is a person to do when most of the normal trappings of the season have been taken away? Where is the hope, joy, peace, and love that we talk about every year? Maybe it is time to ask different questions?
What has your hope, joy, peace, and love been based on up to now? Did you need packages, preparations, parties, and people to generate the warm fuzzies of the season? Has there been any depth to the season beyond the fun?
We need to start with the basics. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ not by works. Salvation is given not earned. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for the certainty of things unseen. In essence, hope goes against the grain. It stands firm, counter to the obvious situations. Hope does not thrive in warm fuzzies. It stoically hangs on because of the certainty of what cannot be seen. Hope shines the brightest when things are the darkest. What are you hanging on to?
Joy is the celebration of God’s activity on earth. It affirms His presence. It acknowledges His activity. Joy feeds hope. A practiced eye and awareness are required to rejoice. God is working around you. You need to know what to look for. For example, I helped coach 5 and 6th grade tackle football. One player, I’ll call Tim, was more timid and less athletic than most. Still, he showed up and tried. Late in the season I saw him avoid a block and grab the ball carrier in the middle of the line for his first tackle. I hollered and jumped celebrating what he had done while everyone else missed it. They thought I was crazy. One play by one kid was something to rejoice over. The world seeks to distract and darken your understanding and perception. What are you looking for?
Peace is usually defined as the bliss in the absence of troubles. Better understood it is calm in the presence of troubles. Most anyone can be peaceful when everything is going ok. It takes hope and joy to have peace when the world seems to be falling apart. Hope and joy reminds us that God is a certainty, and we see His handiwork. Knowing that God has the details means that your situations do not define you. Peace raises you above the waves of life. What are you relying on?
We love because God first loved us. Love is received. Have you received the love of God? If you have you know the abundance of His unconditional gift. You are defined by His adoption of you into His family. Funny thing about love, it is designed to give away. You can not keep love. You must give it. The more you give the more you find He provides. How are you loving others?
Hope, joy, peace, and love are not dependent on one’s circumstances. In fact, they shine the best when things are tough. This season ask God to help you trust and obey even more to experience these His gifts to you in even a deeper way.