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What do you Want for Christmas?




This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent, a period of anticipation and preparation for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. It is a season where Joy is the longing for the goal of every person, and we do many things that can add Joy and merriment as we celebrate the Savior's coming.


Joy is not guaranteed, however. We still have to deal with stress at work, financial stress, and relationship stress. Some of us deal with physical problems or the absence of a loved one. Still, we do our best to reach for and acquire or achieve the things that we think will increase our Joy.


James 1:2- 4 says: My Brothers and Sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but Joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

These verses in James are not traditional Christmas verses, but they have something fundamental to say to us in this season of mandatory Joy.

What do we consider Joy? James says we must consider it Joy when we face trials of any kind. This instruction is a challenge to the we see things.


James is suggesting that we see our trails as a gift box. You know that feeling you get when you receive a beautifully wrapped gift? You do not know what's in the box but are happy and excited to receive it. I am very impatient, so I rip the wrapping and the box apart to get to the good stuff, the gift inside.


James says that our trail is the gift box that gives us endurance, patience, and steadfastness, and if we tear away that wrapping, we find an even better gift. Our sanctification, that we are perfect and whole, wanting in nothing, so that we may do the will of our Father.


What do you want for Christmas? I could do with patience, steadfastness, maturity, and more of the holiness of Jesus. But these gifts are costly. The adorable baby Jesus would grow up to face the cross. But then he ripped the box right open because of the Joy set before him—the salvation of the humans he loves so much. The baby Jesus would be sanctified and prepared for his mission by his suffering.


Sometimes, the gift we receive now feels like a ticking bomb, and we are too afraid to open it. But you can go ahead; Jesus has already opened it. The box may be ominous, but the contents are always good for those who love him.


Finding Joy amidst the stress and difficult times is challenging but possible.

First, we must view our trials as opportunities for growth. James is urging us to shift our perspective on trials. Rather than viewing them solely as sources of discomfort or pain, we should see them as personal and spiritual development instruments. So, ask yourself, what can I learn from this situation? How can this situation draw me closer to Jesus?


Second, practice gratitude. Take time each day to reflect on what you are thankful for. An attitude of gratitude does not have to be a feeling, but it is acknowledging the things that are good in your life presently.


Third, connect with those who are around you. I tend to focus on the people who are absent, filling me with loneliness and nostalgia. However, so many warm souls around us can be a source of comfort and strength if we are willing to see them. Reach out; you might be surprised at the connection you achieve.


Fourth, engage in the activities you enjoy. Doing something you like or are good at can result in happiness because it can create conditions for flow. That feeling where you are in the zone and loving what you are doing is a valid source of Joy.


Last, but most importantly, take it to the Lord in prayer. Don't allow anxiety to steal your Joy, but talk to Jesus about it. He is Emmanuel, the ever-present God.


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