I was recently on my way to a last-minute workout when I noticed drivers ahead acting erratically at a crosswalk. A mother was in the middle of the road stopping cars, desperate for cash to feed her kids. Forget Christmas, the next day for her family was not looking hopeful. It is a place I am remember vividly.
Growing up in a missionary family there were many times of desperation, unsure of where our next meal was coming from, or how we would find our way through the next challenge. ‘Extras’ were not even considered. There were times of miraculous intervention and somehow what we needed was provided or someone was there for us, but there were also times we felt we could not hold on any longer. How do you have joy when the majority of your time is spent just barely getting by?
We often hear at Christmas that Jesus came to be our Savior but how does that help right now? How does He bring joy now?
God did not come to be our ‘everlasting’ savior only. He also came to be our ‘right now’ savior, to help us find our way in the craziness that life throws at us. The best place to see examples of God’s character is in the Bible. Here are some highlights from some of the many verses:
The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed
a refuge in times of trouble
you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you
he who avenges murder cares for the helpless
He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer
He has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy
He has not turned his back on them but has listened to their cries for help
The poor will eat and be satisfied
Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.’
He has heard my cry for mercy
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
The Lord gives his people strength.
Father to the fatherless
defender of widows
God places the lonely in families
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
If you are wondering what happened to that single mom, we went on a shopping trip complete with the ‘extras’ that day. As she returned home safely, her anxiety had slowly been replaced with joy. I was moved by how quickly joy can wash away sorrow and even desperation, especially when someone sees you, advocates for you and addresses your needs.
Our family has been blessed by an ongoing joy knowing we could safely trust in God. He has always been there for us and though He sometimes doesn’t answer right away, He always comes through…and when He does, He often includes the ‘extras’ we dared not hope for.
If you have lost your joy this season, or life has dumped its worst on you, turn to God. I can tell you with 100% certainty that He sees you and is already coming to help you, He will hear you when no one else does, and He loves you beyond what you can imagine. Trust Him. He will be there for you, delivering joy in unexpected ways.
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.’ – Psalm 34:4-10