January 13, 2009

Comfort and joy

If you don't know at least five people right now, personally, who have been laid off and can't find work, my guess is that you do not live in Michigan. It's a tough time for our entire country, but I feel a little bit like Michigan is a sinking ship.* Watching the morning news is so depressing and causes so much anxiety, that sometimes I mute it when the local news comes on so that I can just watch the national news. Unemployment in our state will hit double digits in the next month or so. The outlook is bleak. I think daily about moving to a different state . . . if it weren't for our house being worth about half of what it was when we purchased it. *

Forget the GDP. I feel like we're already living in a depression.

There are so many directions I could go with this right now, so many grievances I'd like to air. So many people I'd like to point fingers at. But that's not what this post is about.

Ironically enough, we didn't get to send out Christmas cards this year, but the idea I had rolling around in my head for the theme was "comfort and joy." How badly do we need a little dose of that right now? In a time when anxiety is peaking and the world seems to be crumbling, the reminder that Jesus came to bring comfort and joy is soothing.

You know the chorus of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman," don't you?
God rest ye merry gentlemen,
let nothing you dismay,
remember Christ our Savior
was born on Christmas day,
to save us all from Satan’s power
when we were gone astray,
oh, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, oh!
Tidings of comfort and joy!
It's not scripture, but it certainly is biblical.

Jesus didn't only come for cheerful people putting ornaments on Christmas trees, while singing "Jingle Bells." He came for the jobless. For the sick. For those who are fearful and confused. For me. Jesus was born to an unwed mother. Who was traveling with her bewildered fiance. A young, inexperienced couple in an unfamiliar, busy, overcrowded town. Trying to pay their taxes, on top of it all. And he was born into a world in which leaders were struggling to protect "Roman peace" and to maintain political and economic stability. Does any of this sound stressful and chaotic? To this world He brings comfort and joy.

We aren't asked to "let our hearts be light" or to shove our troubles in a corner and forget about them over Christmas. We're told to have courage. We're granted forgiveness. We're invited to bring them to the throne of the One whom we worship and surrender them. We're asked to trade them in for comfort and for joy. We're granted Comfort that can trasncend any situation and bring rest to the weary soul. And the kind of joy that is so much more than the happy shell of one celebrating a holiday . . . the kind of joy that penetrates one's heart and seeps into every part of his being.

Tidings of comfort and joy to you . . . Christ is born today.

*Don't read these statements as anything other than hyperbolic speech and my off the cuff assessment of my feelings. I haven't given up hope on our state and though I think it'll get a lot worse before it gets better, I feel a sense of God's moving and presence as we are, well, humbled.


Smith Family Blog said...

Great post! And I love that song. I wanted to use it in our worship this Christmas, and went through 3 hymnals before my mom finally found it in a fourth, antique hymnal. Ridiculous! We need those words now more than ever!

And wow-- Michigan. What a wake-up call for me. Living in farm territory, where the one other industry actually can't keep enough workers, we don't realize just how bad it is in other parts of the country-- and how much we should be praying.

Jodi said...

I really like this, Sara. :)

Erin K. said...

This came on a perfect day for me - thanks for posting it!

Sarah said...

good post Sara....