Advent 4.4: Joy in Suffering

Light all three purple candles and one pink/red candle.
Read: Hebrews 12:2-3; James 1:2-4

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Heb. 12:2-3)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

—–

It is a marvelous mystery, this thing called joy. As an emotion, it causes people to laugh and dance, to shout and sing. It causes people to do things they would never do in their right mind, such as shout out praise in the midst of a human assembly like a man proclaiming his love for his wife on the crowded streets of Paris. It will even cause humble and outcast shepherds to seek out every living person in sight to tell them of a miraculous baby’s birth.

As a state of mind, being joyous will bear the harshest of times, carrying a load of worry and hurt on its shoulders until the burden ceases to be and disappears. It will help us to see the bigger picture — that picture of which our present difficulties are but specks of paint in a sea of reds, blues and blacks. Joy helps us through tough times. We know that whatever we face, Jesus Christ has faced it before, times ten, and has overcome it. We know that we are His children, His beloved possession, eternally secure and unable to be destroyed by our circumstances. We can live in a state of joy because we know the Truth, and He said he has overcome the world and that we can overcome it, too, through Him.

How can we experience joy in suffering? We may not sing and we may not dance but our heart can be at rest because of the babe in the straw, our Lord Jesus Christ. He was, as the great hymn proclaims, “born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.” We can be joyous because we know that Christ was born to crush sin and oppression, which He started at the cross and will complete when He returns to earth. We know that His blood can save us and give us a second birth. And that His salvation will remain even in the midst of our deepest despair.

So we may not always feel like dancing, but we know that we can still be joyous based on the knowledge of whom Christ is and what He has done.

— Be God’s.

Sample Prayer

Our Father in heaven, we light this candle to thank You for Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, who brings us great joy. We thank You that just as the messenger brings good news of great joy, the gospel of Your Son has brought joy to the hearts of many who were without hope. Help us, Father, to rejoice like the angels rejoiced when Your Son took on flesh for our salvation. And let us rejoice in His holy name. Amen.

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