The Christmas season is supposed to be a time of joy, but for many it is a hard time to endure. Today’s news illustrates how tough life can be; what could bring a mother to take the life of her two young children and herself? Depression and discouragement abound just as much if not more than the magic of the season. Your situation may not be on that level of human suffering, but many things vie for our attention. The to-do list grows exponentially, the calendar fills quickly with parties and events, the checkbook does not reconcile with the dreams and hopes that Christmas is supposed to bring.
The Lord wants more for us during this season; He wants us to look to His coming with joy and expectation; not through gloomy eyes. The Psalmist proclaims:
I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Psalm 122:1 NASB
This Psalm is not about going to church on Sunday, though many interpret it as such. This is a Psalm of Ascent, a liturgy for Jewish Pilgrims going up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts of Israel. Not only are they celebrating the festival, they are so celebrating that their feet are in the gates of Jerusalem. Arriving in Jerusalem at the Temple was a very joyous occasion. What Jerusalem was to Israel is what the Church and the holidays she celebrates, should be to believers. Even if times are hard and discouraging, we should approach them with joy; joy that we have the privilege of remembering Christ’s coming over two-thousand years ago, and His Future Advent.
The psalmists often found themselves discouraged because of trials or circumstances which surrounded them; yet they still called upon the Lord for help:
To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He is gracious to us. Be gracious to us, O Lord, be gracious to us, for we are greatly filled with contempt. Our soul is greatly filled with the scoffing of those who are at ease, And with the contempt of the proud.
In ancient times, a servant stood dutifully awaiting a command from the one she served. She did nothing but watch the hand of her master. When the master needed the servant, they would raise their hand to summon the servant. That is the picture the psalmist paints here: he will do nothing but look to the Lord for help. He overcame every distraction, every circumstance and cried to God for help and waited on Him; his hope was solely in the Lord. This is what we should do when we become discouraged and trodden down with the commercialism and secular hype of the holidays. Hope in Him. Look to the Lord for His grace; He is faithful to answer. What other time of year can you hear walking through the mall, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! Glory to the newborn King! Look for every drop of grace from the Father, and cultivate a grateful heart, and you will find joy in the season and have hope for the arrival of the coming King.
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