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Advent 2012 Devotional #7: Real Joy

Finals are over, we’ve graduated yet another class of amazing students, and one week stands between us and some much needed time off.  There are lots of reasons to be joyful as we move into this week of JOY during the season of Advent, and our writer for today’s Advent devotional is Dillon Burns.  Dillon is a junior studying mechanical engineering here at TCU and is originally from Saline, Michigan.  Many of you might have seen him in a bright purple jacket singing with TCU’s Frog Corps, or maybe you know him as the President of TCU Wesley.  Chances are wherever you’ve seen him, you’ve seen someone with an abundance of JOY!  I’ve come to believe that it’s impossible to be around Dillon without walking away a little more joyful than you were moments before seeing him.  It’s simply who he is, which is why I asked him to write a devotional for this specific week.  When he sent me this devotional last Thursday, I found it to be profoundly insightful.  As I re-read it this morning, in light of Friday’s tragedy, I found it to be all the more profound and meaningful.  I hope you are as moved by his words this morning as I was.  What a wonderful message of JOY when our need for that JOY is so great…
In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7) so that the genuineness of your faith – being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not seem him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls .”  – 1 Peter 1:6-9
Sometimes it’s awfully hard to have a happy holiday or a merry Christmas. The season encourages a sense of euphoria that can be hard to unearth in ourselves.
It feels like there are Christmas decorations everywhere practically demanding a jubilant holiday cheer. Even nativity scenes, with their perfectly crafted figurines, seem to ask that we throw off all thoughts of sadness and loneliness and pain and hurt and whatever else we might be feeling. But sometimes we can’t. In these times, even the fresh-baked Christmas cookies or hot chocolate don’t always help bring happiness.
And that’s okay.
The real nativity scene wasn’t like that anyway. Hay is a lot scratchier than it looks. Animals are smelly. Joseph’s feet probably hurt. Mary wasn’t exactly pain free. Even the shepherds probably smelled like the animals they tended. See, Jesus wasn’t born into glory, He was born into the middle of a broken, hurting world and was surrounded by broken, hurting people.
There weren’t any miracles that first night. No one was healed. There were no demons cast out or water turned to wine. Jesus didn’t even preach a sermon. He was just there. And that was enough. It is the knowledge of God’s presence, even in our pain, that brings joy. We can rejoice in Christ for His presence in the manger, His presence on the cross, and His presence in our lives. We can’t see Him, but He’s there. That’s something worth rejoicing in.
There isn’t an advent candle for happiness; we don’t need one. We don’t have to be happy constantly, because happiness is fleeting and shallow and based on what the world can give us.
I’d rather have a glorious joy too powerful for words than happiness anyway.  So, let us find Christ in the midst of the trials and rejoice in Him for who He is and His unending love.
Lord God, we thank you that no matter the state of our lives we can rely on Your presence and love. Remind us to focus on You as the wellspring of all our joy. In Christ’s name, Amen.


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