The birth story of Jesus is absolutely incredible. God chose to announce the birth of His son to a tiny group of shepherds in a field in the middle of the night. It’s very difficult to wrap our heads around just how significant this is. We buy the lie that really big things happen to us when we have enough time, money, or a big enough platform. “If only I had the resources to. . . ” becomes a mantra. Or we make excuses like, “Our church is too small to. . . ” But the reality is that the God of the universe announced His son, the savior of mankind, to a group of sleepy shepherds.
But the message of joy is just as important: “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 ESV). This theme of joy is found repeated throughout the scriptures. During the time of Ezra and Nehemiah the Israelites heard the Law read and they began to weep. Nehemiah told them not to weep then said, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
The joy of the Lord is our strength! And the joy that comes because of Jesus’ birth is for all people. This is most definitely something that more people need to celebrate.
As we focus on the theme of wisdom this year, it’s appropriate to talk about struggles in the context of wisdom. Oftentimes, in the middle of our deepest struggles, wisdom is what carries us through. Wisdom allows us to see beyond the tragedy so that hope can emerge and come into deeper focus. Wisdom helps us make guided decisions so that we don’t remain in a permanent rut.
Without wisdom, we would never understand that trials can actually deepen our faith. They have the ability to refine us and make us stronger. James says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:2-4).
Most of us don’t have the first instinct to be joyful when trials hit. It is not our fist response. Our sight gets clouded by the agony of the pain. We often are dazed, shocked, and have to focus on just breathing. But it’s wisdom that helps us see the big picture. Wisdom tells us that there is a loving God who validates our suffering. Wisdom tells us that we can put one foot in front of the other and that each step is another movement forward.
But we also need to ask in faith. James says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” In all of our trials, we need to ask for more wisdom. Our faith will be tested. Our faith is tested. Let’s ask for wisdom as it is tested.
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