May joy surround you, your family this holiday season

It’s OK if you’ve got the Christmas blues. For Pete’s sake, Elvis even sang about having a “Blue Christmas.”

I was recently reminded how blue they can be when a longtime friend, who cares for a multitude of people each week, tearfully explained why his heart was breaking. It reminded me of when my 97-year-old Grandpa Hommel honestly shared: Your kids and grandchildren are great, but sometimes they can break your heart.

That same day my husband asked a happy-go-lucky acquaintance if there was something we could pray about. The man broke down in tears and shared that his marriage was falling apart.

I was reminded that the people standing in front of and behind me in the grocery line (all of us) have individual challenges that must be faced: cancer, divorce, health issues, immediate or extended family turmoil, terminally ill friends and family, infertility, unplanned pregnancies, accidents that take us to the emergency room, depression, loneliness … physical and emotional suffering.

Life challenges coupled with the almost daily Islamic State group terrorist updates, local murders, neighborhood thefts and unrelenting social media debates, it’s a wonder anyone can find joy in all that fog.

Yet the joy is there; and I, for one, am glad that it is addressed more than 182 times in the Old and New Testaments. Joy is found more than hell, hate and forgiveness, but much less than Jesus, grace and faith.

Whether your Christmas is merry and bright like the “White Christmas” lyrics or is actually grievous and lonely, may you experience good tidings of great joy.

“The world ignores us, but we are known to God; we live close to death, but here we are, still very much alive. We have been injured but kept from death. Our hearts ache, but at the same time we have the joy of the Lord. We are poor, but we give rich spiritual gifts to others. We own nothing, and yet we enjoy everything.” — 2 Corinthians 6:9-10 (TLB)

“Let all the joys of the godly well up in praise to the Lord, for it is right to praise him.” — Psalm 33:1

“After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you!” — 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (New Living Translation)

“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’”

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” — Luke 2:10-14