Friday, December 21, 2012

Permission to Rejoice

Does the phrase “…and on top of everything else…” seem to become a sort of Murphy’s law motif for your life? 

It does mine. 

My mom got Alzheimer’s.  I cut my teaching job to half time to care for her. Then…

On top of everything else, my job assignment was restructured, and so I chose to take early retirement. 

Then on top of everything else, we are farmers and have had two drought years back to back. 

In the midst of these sorrows we recognize God’s presence with us and begin to breathe more easily.  

But then on top of everything else, the national news brings tidings of a horrific event in Newtown, CT., something so unimaginably grievous that we would not have in our darkest dreams considered it a possibility. 

And then on top of everything else, we receive word of a local family whose home is destroyed by fire on the very day they bring their ailing child home from a five-week hospital stay. 

In the midst of sorrows of such magnitude that our own small sufferings shrink away to nothing by comparison, it seems wrong to smile and say “Merry Christmas.” A grim countenance of despair seems more appropriate, and less likely to rub salt in the wounds of those who have suffered such mind-boggling loss. 

You will understand why I floundered in confusion for a bit when, during my morning devotions, I heard the Lord’s still small voice saying: You have permission to rejoice. 

Jesus was born into a world full of sorrow and despair.  Sometimes we like to quibble about the details of His coming, but it truly doesn’t matter whether He arrived in the midst of winter, or earlier in the season (as the debate goes); or if he was born in a stable, or a cave, or a nicely furnished outbuilding offered by a gracious innkeeper (rather than the grouchy tyrant we’ve come to envision); what matters is that He has come

We have permission to rejoice. 

We are a people in need of a Savior, and the Savior has come.  As we weep with those who mourn and open our hearts and bank accounts to those who are suffering, we become His hands and heart in this world.  In the midst of weeping and suffering throbs a strong chord of hope for the past, present, and future:  God was, is, and will be with us because of what Christ has done for us.  No sorrow we face has to be endured alone; He weeps with our sorrows, provides solace for our wounds, and gives a sure promise for a future when there will be no more tears. 

We not only have the Lord's consent to rejoice, we are instructed to do so!  A search at Biblegateway shows that the word “rejoice” appears in God’s Word 155 times. 

Today I am giving myself permission to rejoice. 

“He will be a joy and a delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth…”  Luke 1:14


  1. Linda, this post really touched my heart. When I was at my lowest I was told by a minister that I had permission to be happy. That God wants us to be happy and we let the world get in the way. I know you are going through such a difficult time and it's hard to see beyond that pain. But, aren't we such fortunate people that we know God loves us and wants us to be happy.

  2. I've learned this year (through some very difficult times) that even though I might not find that I can rejoice in my circumstances.. I can rejoice in God my Savior.

    Very good post! Thank you!

  3. Amen.I have never read a more uplifting Christmas devotional. Thank you!