Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of a Savior—the best gift ever given. And in the weeks leading up to December 25, there are often also laughter-filled family get-togethers, festive parties at work and church, and fun events with friends.
But sometimes when we’ve been through difficult circumstances, are dealing with health situations, job losses, or the death of a loved one, it’s hard to find those moments of joy, to discover a heart filled with praise.
I’ll never forget how hard it was to find the joy of the season on that first Christmas after my dad committed suicide years ago. But with the passage of time and with the love and support of family and friends, I was able to heal and to find that joy again. I’ll always miss my dad, but now I can smile about the memories we made together.
I’ve realized something else as I’ve spent time in God’s Word: He put some great examples in the Bible to show me how to praise Him despite my circumstances.
Think about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, three men whose faith was put to the test as they were forced to take a stand for God. But instead of standing around worrying and whining, they stepped into the fiery furnace with confidence, praising Him for taking care of them during an unbelievable situation.
And what about Daniel? He was a man of exceptional character, and he’d been so faithful in prayer and in serving God. Despite that, he was thrown into a den of lions. He could have been bitter at how he was treated, but instead he praised God through this trial—and had an opportunity to see God’s power first-hand as those ferocious lions turned into purring pillows.
Job praised God even though His life had just imploded. This wealthy man lost everything that he had: his sheep, his camels, his servants, his health and his beloved sons and daughters. The blows came so fast that he didn’t have time to even catch his breath before more horrible news arrived. If anyone had a right to be bitter, Job was the man, but he continued to praise God through every heartache.
Paul and Silas praised God while sitting in a dank prison cell. They’d been jailed for serving God, for preaching the Gospel. They were entitled to be angry or defeated, but instead, they sang. Can you imagine how the sound of their singing echoed through that depressing prison?
I want to be like those guys, finding joy in the midst of hard times. And I discovered something on that Christmas all those years ago when my praise and joy were dimmed: Jesus truly is the reason for the season. He’s the One who can fill a wounded heart with peace and comfort. And when I focused my eyes on Him instead of my circumstances, that’s when joy started shining into my soul and chased the heartache away.
Father, please bless those whose hearts are hurting this Christmas. Help them to discover an unexplainable joy as they feel Your sweet comfort. Amen.