“Joy in January” might sound a contradiction in phrases. For many people, January is a chilly, moist, sloppy month. For Christians, there’s the pure letdown that occurs after Christmas, after the weeks of buying, baking, celebrating, and anticipating Christmas Day. Christians acknowledge, throughout January, the go to of the magi and the toddler Jesus being circumcised; then we soar years forward to his baptism by his cousin John. By the top of January, the manger is empty, the infant all grown up, and the remainder of us should get on with our lives.
On New Year’s Day of this 12 months, I skilled an odd kind of panic assault, and it was tousled with sudden grief. I used to be watching kinfolk get in their automobile and drive away, having had dinner at my house. They don’t reside removed from me, and I see them usually, however their driving away felt like the top of one thing. Then the tears began, together with a horrible sense of breathlessness. Hours later, I concluded that, for some purpose, this 12 months I felt extra acutely the family members who’re not right here, the celebrations long gone, and the bodily houses not standing. I felt acutely my very own age and the truth that extra of my life is behind me than in entrance of me.
I used to be not feeling pleasure on the primary day of January.
Joy connects with varied different feelings, and certainly one of them is hope. And we naturally join hope with the long run. Therefore, if we glance forward and see nothing—as I did on New Year’s Day—we discover that hope has left us. Even if you happen to don’t have a panic assault, a number of days of catching up on world information can suck up anybody’s breath and hope, as we hear of wars, famine, pure disasters, political conflicts, struggling economies, and so forth.
For folks of religion, there should be a greater approach to pleasure. For the one that believes in God of the Universe, who creates us and who’s the good Lover of our souls, pleasure doesn’t depend on a imaginative and prescient of the long run. Joy roots itself in this second, at the present time, and the ever-current actuality of Divine presence and vitality infusing all of creation, together with you and me proper now.
Joy doesn’t require a candy child who by no means grows up.
The New Testament Christians regarded ahead to a future with Christ. They knew that different elements of their future had been fairly grim. In their time, folks didn’t reside very lengthy, and the toddler mortality price was excessive. They had been nicely-acquainted with conflict and starvation and violence and oppression. Some of them felt the fixed shadow of persecution, torture, and demise, as a result of they had been followers of Jesus. Some of them selected to not get married or have households as a result of the instances had been so unstable. They didn’t discover pleasure by looking forward to a pleasant retirement or a inventive transforming of the house or travels to different international locations for fascinating experiences. They skilled pleasure as a result of they skilled God in their midst.
So, actually, pleasure needs to be as accessible in January as in May, for these of us who imagine we’re God’s beloved. When I notice that my pleasure has evaporated, it’s a sign that I’ve sought pleasure in the flawed manner, the flawed place. Joy doesn’t lie forward of me however is on the market to me now. Joy doesn’t anticipate a greater time and extra money and a nicer house.
Joy doesn’t require a candy child who by no means grows up. Joy grows with the kid to maturity, and pleasure energizes that particular person’s mission, and pleasure sustains him all the way in which to his brutal Death and burial. Then, pleasure actually sings on the Resurrection.
We have delighted in the Baby Jesus, sung songs to him, and celebrated his start. May we proceed with him by all the times forward, by the rising-up days and arduous-working days and instances of perseverance and ache and tears and trial and charm and victory and therapeutic and redemption. May we expertise each second as a superb blaze that refines our pleasure and makes us robust.
If you’re not feeling the enjoyment this January, there’s nonetheless time to register for Praying Through Pain: A Webinar with Barbara Lee.