“Joy Comes Through the Mourning”
When I lived in Mexico for two years with the Journeyman Missions Program, I wasn’t able to come home during the first Christmas. To make matters worse, I had the flu on Christmas Day and couldn’t even raise my head to talk on the phone with my family. But during the second year of my journey, I had permission to make the trip home. I started listening to Christmas music in August of that year in anticipation for the trek home! During my visit, it was so wonderful to see my extended family. On top of a great Christmas celebration, I got to experience a deep snow that was perfect for making snow angels. The snow storm extended my trip home for an extra day, so Wayne and I really enjoyed the bonus time together. When I look back, I remember the time with great joy! The joy is heightened as I recall the difficulty of Christmas the previous year.
Joy is the common theme in these passages we read today. Jeremiah prophecies that those who are long exiled will return to the land of promise. He says they will dance with joy! Luke says that the time of waiting for the Messiah has come to an end. Miraculously, baby John, who is in Elizabeth’s womb, leaps with excitement and joy.
These passages are a breath of fresh air after the many words of warning and despair we read in Jeremiah. They remind us that God promises to bring us to a place of ultimate joy, even if all of life is full of mourning. And as we wait for the final day of salvation and the day when we—who are exiles in a foreign land—will be at home with the Lord, we must ask the Holy Spirit to give us anticipatory joy.
In this season, are you experiencing longing or grief, sorrow, or stress? If so, may these passages be a reminder that God does not forget his people. As we await the greatest joy of being with Jesus forever, let us rest in the promise that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). May we exude expectancy this season for God’s promises to come.