Candles, Characters, & Carols IV- Joy

An oft-forgotten character in the birth story is the faithful donkey. After reviewing Scripture, I do not explicitly see mention of a donkey escorting Mary & Joseph. [If I missed the reference, let me know!] However, this small detail seems to be an assumption & traditionally included. Let us assume that the traditional depiction of Mary riding the donkey is correct.

Donkeys are beasts of burden- intended to carry weight. How do we carry the weight we are given? There are many mentions of suffering & burden throughout the Bible. A few highlights:

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. [Romans 8:18]

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. [2 Corinthians 1:4-5]

What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” [Ecclesiastes 3:9-11]

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30]

These verses do not mean that we should deliberately seek out unpleasant things or that suffering is a direct requirement for salvation, growing spiritually, etc. If your life is anything like mine, unpleasant situations/people/etc. will find you. The difference is when [not if] they come, how to respond.

You & I are not beasts of burden, but burden comes anyway. Just as donkeys are beasts of burden- intended to carry weight, how do we carry the weight we are given? Perhaps you have a stressful home life or vocation. What do you do with it? Perhaps you have many children and/or relatives that depend on you. What do you do with it? Perhaps you have a health condition? What do you do with it?

There is a common theme in the verses above- hope. You may have heard it said that happiness is temporary & fleeting, but joy is sustained & eternal. How is joy sustained & eternal? Hope. Let us hope in joy & take joy in hope.

 

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear by Edmund Sears

It came upon the midnight clear,

That glorious song of old,

From angels bending near the earth,

To touch their harps of gold:

“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men

From heavens all gracious King!”

The world in solemn stillness lay

To hear the angels sing.

 

O ye beneath life’s crushing load,

Whose forms are bending low,

Who toil along the climbing way

With painful steps and slow;

Look now, for glad and golden hours

Come swiftly on the wing;

Oh rest beside the weary road

And hear the angels sing.

 

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