“Joy to the World! The Lord is come!” Advent is a time for introspection and penitence, preparing believers for the excitement of Jesus’ arrival at Christmas. The contrast between the sorrow of our sin and joy of a Savior is like night turning into dawn.
Several years ago I had surgery to remove a parathyroid gland. The symptoms that led to the surgery involved rising calcium levels in my blood. I felt like two fingers were constantly pressing on my throat, creating a choking sensation. In addition, tremors shook my body from head to toe. The surgeon warned me that, because the parathyroid glands are right next to the vocal chords, the surgery could cause me to lose my voice.
I still remember waking up in the recovery area. The most amazing sensation was one of peace. After months of vigorous tremors, my body was at rest! And when the doctor later allowed me to try speaking, I learned that I still had a voice. I could talk! My “night” had turned to dawn. I added joy and praise to the mix.
Mary passed a long night in labor. Exhausted she lay back on the straw to rest. Her infant son lay safe in the manger. And Mary? As the sun rose the next morning, her heart overflowed with…joy.
By the time you read this, my family will have already celebrated Christmas. Packages will be torn open. Too much food will have been consumed. Hugs and laughter will warm the room. Holiday joy will fill our hearts. As you prepare to celebrate with your family, take a moment today to remember those for whom this holy day will be marked with tears. The families of the twenty schoolchildren and their teachers who died in Connecticut are still in mourning. Pray that God’s Spirit will bring them comfort and, yes, even joy.