If you ask a group of people about their happiest Christmas memory, you’re sure to hear a story of triumph over tragedy. The stories that start with “My dad had been out of work for a while and we didn’t have very much, but …” or “It was our first family Christmas without Grandma and …” almost always end with people finding ways to love and support each other through the hard times. The family who is struggling financially might have made gifts for each other that year, or spent the holiday serving at a homeless shelter. The family missing their loved one might have cooked her favorite recipe or made sure to sing her favorite carol. So many of our favorite Christmas memories are significant because we were able to celebrate in the face of hard times.
Joy is finding a way to be happy even when things don’t go your way. Joy isn’t dependent on our circumstances, but rather it’s about being content beyond our circumstances. We can have joy when we recognize that God’s plan is greater than our own. Our joy is a response to our trust in God.
Joy will thrive in life’s triumphs and endure through life’s challenges. Joy is a deep, sincere way to approach life that allows us to know that the hard times will make us stronger and draw us closer to God. Having joy may not mean always wearing a smile, but joy lets us reflect God’s love and shine through the dark moments in life.
The monthly memory verse is:“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4, NIV ©1984. When life is going well for us, we can rejoice in God’s goodness. When things don’t go our way, we can still rejoice because we know that God has promised to always be with us and give us peace. We can always find joy.
In Week One’s Bible story, God promised a Savior to rescue His people from their sins(Isaiah 9:6-7). This promise was given to Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Through Jesus, God made a way for His people to be rescued. Our Bottom Line is: I can have joy because God keeps His promises. We can read God’s promises for ourselves in the Bible.
In Week Two’s Bible story, Zechariah and Elizabeth were unable to have children (Luke 1:5-25; 57-79). Yet, they learned that God can do anything. Our Bottom Line is: I can have joy because anything is possible with God. Although God may not always choose to do the impossible—He may allow us to walk through hard times to help us grow—we can remember that He can rescue us from anything.
In Week Three’s Bible story, God put His plan in motion by sending His Son to be born as a baby (Luke 2:1-7). Our Bottom Line is: I can have joy because God sent His Son. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of all of God’s promises to us. Our hope in Jesus can help us have joy and overcome anything that can happen to us.
In Week Four’s Bible story, God announced to the world that the Promised One arrived (Luke 2:8-20). God sent His angels to shepherds out keeping watch over their sheep to proclaim the good news. Our Bottom Line is: I can have joy because God’s story is for everyone. That story isn’t something we can keep to ourselves. It’s a story we need to share with everyone.
In Week Five’s Bible story, a godly man named Simeon had been waiting for God’s promise to happen (Luke 2:21-35). When he saw baby Jesus, heprophesied that through Jesus the world would be blessed. Our Bottom Line is: I can have joy because God has a plan to make things right.Some of life’s circumstances cause us pain, but our pain is not the end of the story; God has a plan to make everything right once and for all.
By Jessica McKee ©2013 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.