Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Joy To The World"1 (Lyrics)
Luke 24:16 – But God kept them from recognizing him. (NLT)
The news stung like a hornet against bare skin.
For thirteen years, my wife and I celebrated Christmas with our two children on Christmas Day. We considered it a sacred tradition, and we thought that they did, too. We loved watching them — and later their children — open the gifts that we had purchased for them. But then, we got the news.
Around the middle of November one year, our daughter texted to let us know that she was rearranging the Christmas calendar. She would celebrate Christmas with us not on Christmas Day, but another day. Going from house to house was just too hectic. She wanted Christmas Day to be only her and her two boys. The news crushed us, but we understood. We would have to face unexpected Christmas changes.
That's when I suggested a change of my own. Since neither of our children would be visiting on Christmas Day, we would head to our favourite place: the Great Smokey Mountains — Pigeon Forge, to be exact.
Jewish believers also encountered an unexpected change in the first century. The birth of the Messiah didn't happen in the way that they expected. He didn't arrive on a gallant white steed to run off their Roman oppressors. Instead, He was birthed by a young unmarried teenager and laid in a manger. Many didn't recognize Him because of this unexpected change — unexpected for them, but not for God.
The holiday season often brings changes that we don't expect — or want. A loved one passes away during the year, and we have to celebrate without them. An empty place resides at the table. An accident causes debilitating injuries and changes the way that we celebrate the holidays. A child moves away to college or takes a job in a state or province far away, perhaps even overseas. Arguments occur. Tempers flare. Anger and misunderstanding erupt. Unforgiveness sneaks in.
The only constant about change is that change always happens, whether we enjoy it or not. We often can't prevent it, but we can adapt and move on, which is what my wife and I did.
Whether or not we enjoy the changes that Christmas throws our way, let us remember the real reason for the celebration: Jesus' birth and our salvation. Let's allow the joy of that event to overshadow any other pain that we may face — and have a merry Christmas!
Prayer: Father, give us eyes to see Your guidance, even in the unexpected changes of life. Amen.