Weary is a word we can all relate to in the broken, earthly world we find ourselves living in today. Our trials are real. They are difficult and personal. The Christmas season and the happiness it brings through the parties, gifts, decorations, lights, and busyness can serve as a good distraction from the things of the past year that have burdened us. But that happiness can fade as quickly as the paper rips off of the boxes and falls to the floor.
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
Interestingly, the angel did not bring happy news. There is a distinct difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is an outward, physical expression. Joy is an inner feeling. Happiness can fade quickly, like gifts being unwrapped or strings of lights burning out. But Joy? Joy is present even in our darkest moments. Joy is the good news that the angels delivered, and it is for all people.
Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
— Nehemiah 8:10
Imagine how dark the world might have felt to the shepherds that night. God had been silent for many, many years. Happiness might have been at an all-time low for them. They did not know the fulfillment of the promises as we know them today. And yet, in one moment, everything changed. The joy they were promised for so many years, the joy that would give them strength, had arrived in the form of a tiny baby that changed everything. The baby that gives us reason to celebrate. The baby that was created as all God and all man. The baby that grew to human adulthood, feeling the emotions we feel and the temptations we face. The man who was tired at times, angry at times, frustrated at times. Sometimes I forget that my Jesus knows how those things felt. He walked in the brokenness and sin of the human world, and although he was sinless, he knows. He understands. He empathizes.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
— Hebrews 4:15–16
As the happiness of the Christmas season begins to fade, gifts are put away, and decorations are stored away until next year, let’s all rest in the joy of the gift of Jesus and the freedom that only he gives us to rejoice in a broken world. May the joy of Jesus endure any hardship the new year presents. My prayer is that you will find meaning and purpose in the greatest gift that has ever been given to you and, when your heart is feeling weary, you will continue to rejoice in that joy.