Friday, December 15, 2023

Joy & Sadness - the offering of Christmas

Joy and sorrow are opposite emotional experiences that all of us know throughout our lifetime. Life is like a tapestry of bright and dark colours and often the bright parts shine the brighter when set against a dark background. 

I am reminded of Benjamin Malachi Franklin’s poem ‘Just a Weaver’, 

(1) My life is but a weaving, between my God and me, 
I do not choose the colors, He worketh steadily. 

(2) Ofttimes he weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride 
Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside. 

(3) Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly, 
Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reasons why 

(4) The dark threads are as needful in the skillful weaver's hand 
As threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.

Many people face tragedies in life. In communities across the world good neighbours try to assist and support each other as they face difficult times. The Bible teaches that we should rejoice with those that rejoice, weep with those that weep, and feel and pray for families in crisis.

Let me give you some examples from the Bible where people faced sorrow and joy.

If you travel five miles south from Jerusalem on the Hebron Road, there is a left hand fork that takes you down to Bethlehem. At that fork in the road is Rachel’s tomb, the place where Jacob’s wife died in child bearing and was buried. The scripture states “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.”  There is only a short distance from that tomb to Bethlehem. What joy Rachel had as she anticipated the birth of her little boy but what sorrow when she died immediately upon delivery of the baby. Benoni means ‘Son of my sorrow’ whereas Benjamin means, ‘Son of the right hand’. Her son’s names remind us of the sorrow and joy that Jesus, the Saviour of the world experienced. Both names are an apt description of Jesus who became ‘the man of sorrows’ at Calvary, but then became ‘the Son of the right hand’ when he was exalted in Heaven. 

In Bible times a young lady called Ruth traveled from Moab and came to fields that belonged to a wealthy man called Boaz. He became Ruth’s kinsman redeemer (a Jewish Biblical term which teaches great lessons about Jesus Christ and what he would accomplish by his death) and married her. They had a son named Obed who became the grandfather of the famous King, David. Ruth is one of four women named in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter one. Mary is the fifth!

When Mary and Joseph were required by Caesar Augustus’s edict to go to Bethlehem, they could have gone to the Bethlehem which was only five miles west of Nazareth, but that was the wrong Bethlehem. The right one was the city of David in Judah. Micah chapter 5 verse 2 says, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

So they left Nazareth and made the arduous 80 mile journey to Bethlehem. Did they travel through the valley of Jezreel or through the Jordan valley? We do not know, but either way would have been exhausting, especially for Mary as she was heavily pregnant. Passing Jerusalem they would arrive at the fork in the road where Rachel’s tomb is. What would have passed through Mary’s mind when she recalled Rachel’s death at childbirth? But Mary had been told, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Regarding the birth of Christ the shepherds in the fields heard “The angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” 

When the wise men were seeking the place where Jesus was born, Matthew chapter 2 verse 10 says, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” When they saw the child they worshipped Him.

It was joy for the wise men but sorrow for the mothers whose children were murdered by Herod, “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” 

Mary’s sorrow came later at Calvary when she saw Jesus crucified but she soon experienced joy as three days later Jesus Christ arose from the dead. He is alive today and is able to save all that come to God by Him. This could be true for you. 

I am praying that you have a joyful Christmas and blessings in coming year and that sorrows stay away from your door. God bless.


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