rhhb 2011. hello, joy.

Though the sorrow may last through the night, joy comes with the morning.

In the midst of heartache, these words may seem more like hydrogen peroxide than Neosporin—adding a sting to the wound rather than a balm to ease the pain. The tribulation of the present, the tears, the frustration, the stress, and misery of trial seem to bury us.

How could good come of such travesty?

We look to the world and see suffering—we look to our lives and see heartache—where is the joy?

And in the midst of us trying to figure out our own lives, tragedies out of our control squeeze their way into our already crammed schedules. You get laid off at work, a loved one dies, betrayal happens, relationships are marred. It seems that the world has forgotten love.

Where is the joy?

Is this world truly what we were made for? The sorrow of today is not enough to get us through—there must be something more.

There must be joy.

Once a year, we overwhelm our trees with ornaments, we gather to look at lights placed intricately throughout our neighborhoods, we scurry to Starbucks for their holiday drinks. It is time for apple cider, board games, gingerbread, Scrooge, presents, and all things Christmas. The world is a giant birthday party for Jesus.

We sing familiar verses like

“Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her King…”

“O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till he appeared and the Soul felt its worth…”

The people of Israel received this promise—that the Lord will be sending a new covenant, a Messiah, to forgive them of their rebellion, and write his laws upon their heart. He, once again will be their God, and they will be his people[1].

Then they waited. They waited for years in toil, in eagerness for the Promise of God to come.

And for years, the whole creation has been groaning in the pains of childbirth[2], waiting for the coming of the Messiah—

until now…

Fast forward to one silent night, where the glory of the Lord is held in the arms of a young mother. Nine months prior, Mary responded to the angel with “I am the Lord’s servant, let it be to me according to your word,” and then sang a song of exaltation to her God, the God of Israel.

She said yes to facing the sorrow in the night, and clung to the promise that joy would come with the morning. Ridicule, disbelief, doubt, fear, uncertainty—she must have known what kind of glances she would get from people when she told them of her miraculous conception—Mary’s reputation was shot, she lost the respect and trust of many—but she knew the Promise that she had been entrusted with—she had the evidence with every inch her stomach grew.

And now, Mary lies in a manger, with Joseph by her side, and shepherds gathered around, making known what an angel had told them about the child in her hands. That this child IS the Good News of Great Joy for all people—the Messiah, Christ the Lord[3].

And Mary sat, with the Promise of God swaddled in a cloth, sleeping in the manger near by, and listened to the Shepherd’s confirmation that all the Lord had spoken to her was true. And Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart[4],

And though the sorrows may have lasted for a night, the joy came with the morning—

Joy, true joy, the one we are seeking, often needs pain to give it birth.

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord[5]–for the Promise of God was born.

[1] Jeremiah 31:31-34

[2] Romans 8:22

[3] Luke 2:8-13

[4] Luke 2:19

[5] Luke 1:45