Great Joy


Great Joy

A few years back Elder Jeffrey R. Holland told the story of his father getting sick and passing away at Christmas time. He spoke of the feelings of despair at losing a parent in general but especially at such a time that was supposed to be filled with, if you will, good tidings of great joy.

In the midst of his sorrowings, he felt as if God was telling him “I expected a little more from you. If you can’t remember why all of this matters, then your approach to Christmas is no more virtuous than the overcommercialization everyone laments these days. You need to shape up just a little, to put your theology where your Christmas carols are. You can’t separate Bethlehem from Gethsemane or the hasty flight into Egypt from the slow journey to the summit of Calvary. It’s of one piece. It is a single plan. It considers ‘the fall and rising again of many in Israel,’ but always in that order. Christmas is joyful not because it is a season or decade or lifetime without pain and privation, but precisely because life does hold those moments for us. And that baby, my son, my own beloved and Only Begotten Son in the flesh, born ‘away in a manger, [with] no crib for his bed,’ makes all the difference in the world, all the difference in time and eternity, all the difference everywhere, worlds without number, a lot farther than your eye can see.”

He then went on to share “It came to me in a profound way that in this life no one can have real love without eventually dealing with real loss.”

I think of the shepherds the angel appeared to and I wonder, what were they dealing with? Their first reaction to the angelic visit was fear - this was not likely an event they were used to. Was it a convenient, easy time to be told of the coming of their Savior? To drop their plans and go to see him because they knew that was what was right?

This year has been one of so many different kinds of hard and intense trials for all of us. I don’t know that anyone has been able to skate by untouched. As we move into the Christmas season, I hope we’re able to remember with our losses there is still joy to be had. Because of the one who laid in a manger, the one who bore all for us, we can turn our pain over to Him and feel an abundance of joy.

Luke 2:9-10
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

*Elder Holland quotes from “Shepherds, Why this Jubilee?”

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