Encouragement

Tidings of Comfort & Joy

This morning when checking my email, I found one from my grandmother about Hallmark channel’s “Jingle in July.” For those of you who have not ever enjoyed a Hallmark Christmas film, this is a summer excuse for Christmas lovers around the world to forget that it’s the dead of summer, curl up on the couch, and watch Christmas movies back to back for two weeks.

It hit me as I scrolled through the email, that Hallmark’s biggest “Christmas in July” ever may be about to kickoff. So many people are at home, desperate for normality and escape from the confusion and division our world is facing right now. How easy would it be to turn on the TV and be delightfully distracted by a big time CEO falling in love with the small town girl who happened to be staying in the hotel next to his office over the holidays to visit her grandmother? I’m willing to bet you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who, when given the choice of a Hallmark movie or another press conference, would choose the press conference. (Dad, you’re the exception.)

The only problem with this solution to dealing with the heaviness of the world, is that in two weeks you’ll be back in your living room, still living amidst tension, pain, and COVID, and there will be no more 100% predictable plot lines to distract you from it. As engaging and distracting as candy cane romances can be, they end with a thud as you remember that’s not the real world.

The bad news is that Christmas movies can’t save the day. The good news is that Christ already did.

After I read that email, Christmas songs started running through my head. I grew up with a strict rule that Christmas music was not allowed until after Thanksgiving. You can imagine my great disdain then, when I found myself humming God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen while doing breakfast dishes in July. But when the first verse got stuck in my head and replayed through the rest of the morning, I began to wonder if Christmas might just hold the hope we need today.

God rest you merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,

Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day,

To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray;

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,

O tidings of comfort and joy.

Sometimes I forget the hope of Christmas from January through November. I forget that though this world is indeed full of evil and sorrow and viruses and division, it is a world in which a Savior was born. The Christmas story changes more than our winter months, it changes our summer months too. It changes the way we get up in the morning, the way we do dishes, the way we drive to work, the way we interact on Facebook, and the way we process and ponder new statistics and political movements. Jesus came, friends. The promised Messiah was really born, He really died, and He really rose again. This changes everything. Including how we as Christians live through pandemics and national tension.

Jesus told us to “take courage” because He has already overcome the world. (John 16:33) This world now writhing in pain and confusion? He overcame it. He came to Bethlehem so many years ago to “free all those who trust in Him from Satan’s power and might.” As ransomed sinners freed by the Savior, we can live in this broken world with Christmas hope every day of the year, because Jesus came and made a way.

Comfort and joy are the things we’re all searching for these days. We as Christians have them right at our finger tips, both to hold onto ourselves, and pass along to a dark and hurting world. It’s not Hallmark’s calling to bring hope, it’s the church’s calling. If you’re weighed down by the coronavirus, burdened with the tension of our nation, or perhaps, just hurting because though this life is hard, let these tidings of comfort and joy fill your soul and then turn and fill someone else’s.

“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:10-11

This is a world with broken hearts, pandemics, division, and war, but it is also a world Jesus has been down to and overcome. He came to save us, and He has not failed. Illness, death, pain, division, and heartache are all results of sin tainting God’s creation. Sin is the root of every problem we face. And the good news of great joy is that Jesus came to save people from their sins.

“She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:21

At the end of the day, we know how this story ends. Jesus has already made a way to set us free and He will finish the work He began by one day bringing us home to Him in paradise. One day, we won’t have to live in a torn world anymore. He has promised to make all things new. Satan and all his darkness will be crushed beneath the feet of our King and all will be made right. What greater comfort and reason for joy is there?

Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com

Dear friends, do not be afraid. We have been given good news of great joy that is for all the people. Forsake not the sweet consolation we have in knowing our Savior has come, He has defeated death itself, and freed all those who trust in Him. Are you looking for tidings of comfort and joy? Open the Bible on your shelf. You’ll find no better news anywhere else.

Christmas movies in July are fun. Sometimes it’s nice to know exactly how the story ends and not be afraid when difficulties arise because you know nothing can thwart a Hallmark matchmaking plot. But as nice as it is, those aren’t going to give you lasting hope. Jesus will though. He came not just to distract us from sin’s impact on the world, but to save us from it.

I leave you now to go and do the lunch dishes. This time, I’m not going to hum God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen. No, this time I’m going to belt it out.

“Fear not, then,” said the angel, “let nothing you affright;

This day is born a Savior of a pure virgin bright,

To free all those who trust in Him from Satan’s power and might.”

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,

O tidings of comfort and joy.


2 thoughts on “Tidings of Comfort & Joy

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