Christmas, Covid, and Joy
This has been a really different and really difficult year for a lot of people. There is the very real chance that you have lost someone that you know and/or care about to Covid. There is the equally real chance that you have lost a job or been affected psychologically in ways that are hard to understand and even harder to explain to other people. In short, 2020 has been tough. It has been tough for All Things New, it has been tough for our family, and I am sure it has been tough for you.
At the same time that these things have been happening, whether related to it or not, things in both Haiti and America have seemed to change quite a bit as well. With racial tensions still high and a political environment that is as polarized and unkind as I have ever seen in my life, things in America are difficult. In Haiti, crime and political unrest continue to increase while poverty is just as bad if not worse than ever.
In the midst of what very well may have been the hardest year of your life, or at the very least has been one of the strangest years on record, the Christmas season is here. A time where people sing, make cookies, spend time with family, and do many other things that are supposed to bring "joy" and happiness. It begs the questions:
- What Is Joy and How Do We Find It?
I had to speak to one of our kids in Haiti recently and give him a pretty big punishment for skipping school and going to a wedding without telling anyone. He told me the reason that he did not tell anyone was because they would have said no. I replied to him that I understand the wedding was important but now he has to take the consequences of his actions and adhere to the punishment of staying inside the walls (except for school) for 1 week and doing everyone's dinner dishes for that same week.
The point is, it is really hard to think past our present circumstances and desires. With our kid in Haiti, he could not think past the joy of the wedding with his friends. With Elijah, Sophie, and Zeke, they cannot really think past what is happening at the moment. We do not even tell them when we are doing something exciting after nap time because they would not be able to sleep.
As we grow older we can think into the future some, but we remain very reactive to life's circumstances even as we age. We get happy and sad based on our situation or how things are going in our lives, and that is normal. But it is also why the concept of "joy" is so difficult for us to understand.
Our joy comes from the fact that, as a follower of Christ, I get to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. So no matter what you do or say to me right now or 20 years from now, in the end I get to be with my Savior. Forever...And Ever...And Ever. And after 10,000 years of being intensely in the presence of GOD and contemplating and seeking every aspect of who He is, I will not be any closer to the fullness of His joy than I was when I started.
This is the celebration of Christmas...The beginning of our joy. Do you want to take my health? I still have Jesus. Do you want to take my freedom? I am free in Christ. Do you want to take my life? You will only be giving me what I have been waiting my whole life to experience...the fullness of GOD's glory.
When we first started going to Haiti, I noticed that our kids were really happy even with very few physical blessings. There were not many toys and they did not eat as much as they needed, but they had an unexplainable joy. I remember thinking that I never wanted to be a part of taking that joy away. We have always been very cognizant, both with our own children and our kids in Haiti, of pointing them to the true joy that is found in Jesus Christ over the fleeting happiness of toys, Santa, and food.Now is that time for each of us, the time to point ourselves to the true joy of Jesus Christ. Is it hard? Yes. Is it even harder right now than it ever has been? Absolutely. But it is in times like these that you find out how you really feel, and it is times like these that you have to realign who you are and point yourself to the one place and the one person who can give us true and lasting joy...Our Savior, Emmanuel, God with us...Jesus.