Have you ever gotten such good news that you couldn’t wipe the smile from your face? Maybe your grin caught the gaze of a stranger who asked you why you were so joyful. Maybe your joy spread to the curious stranger. Perhaps, even, someone nearby overheard your conversation and it sparked them to join in on your celebration.
In my experience, joy is infectious. And we Christians have more reason for joy than anyone else, for we have an eternal hope (Titus 3:7)!
I think, however, that we often find ourselves with a morose visage as the weight of the world bears down on us. The joy of our salvation has faded. I’m pretty sure that all Christians have visited that spot at one time or another, and I as much as any.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10 ESV).
Why does this “good news of great joy” fade? The message remains the same; and the power of the Gospel never wanes in strength.
I have learned throughout my years as a Christ-follower that if there is a problem with my faith walk it lies within me. God hasn’t changed; “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 ESV).
According to Jesus’ explanation of the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:18-23), it’s the condition of our hearts that has an effect on our joy.
“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away” (Matthew 13:20-21 ESV).
The way we choose to live, the things with which we fill our hearts and minds, determine if we maintain that the Gospel is, indeed, good news to us. If we truly value the good news of Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection, it will show on our faces, on my face. When it does, we can’t help but let our light shine with the “good news of great joy that will be for all the people (emphasis mine).
The first few days of the COVID-19 quarantine I was still pretty chipper. My job in an “essential industry” has been cut back to half-time, but I’m still being paid for full-time. I am so blessed while so many are struggling to make ends meet. Yet, with everything that is going on in the world around me, I have really started getting down. A lifetime struggle with depression has intensified as actual human contact has become so restricted.
I’m reminded of the apostle Paul. “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus” (Galatians 1:15-17, ESV).
Paul “self-quarantined” so that he could hear from God and not what others had to say about God! Then, after three years I presented what he had learned to Peter and James to verify what he had received.
This crisis has the potential to shipwreck our faith…or anchor it. We need to reconnect with the “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Let’s find a way to make our circumstances draw us closer to Jesus than ever.
I certainly needed the reminder today; perhaps you did too.
As always, these are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your day!