Ruby & I usually try to get our Christmas message out to the church family sooner than the day before Christmas. However, I couldn’t think of a specific message I wanted to communicate, UNTIL I was playing a card game today with my seven year-old grandson. He can be funny & sometimes a little weird, and today was no exception. While we were playing, he kept blurting out sporadically, “Merry Crisis!” I thought at first it was just his strange way of saying “Merry Christmas,” so I would reply, “Merry Christmas!” But then I realized he WASN’T saying a strange version of “Merry Christmas” but rather something totally different. It finally dawned on me that this was the perfect way to introduce our Christmas greeting to the church family, especially in light of a familiar verse I read yesterday during my quiet time with the Lord.
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a year of “crisis.” For some in our FBC family there have been multiple crises. But is a crisis necessarily a bad thing? I wonder if Mary & Joseph thought that Caesar Augustus’s decree for everyone to be taxed in his home town posed a kind of crisis for a woman who was at the end of her pregnancy and had to ride on a donkey to get there (at least according to tradition). Then when they got to obscure Bethlehem, you know the rest of the story … “there was no room in the inn.” So, the Savior of the world would be born at night with the farm animals. However, the angels told the shepherds that this birth of a Savior was “good news of great joy!” So, in effect, the birth of Jesus Christ was a “merry crisis.”
What was the familiar verse I read during my QT yesterday that really drove this message home? John 16:33. Before the greatest crisis of the Savior’s life, Jesus told his disciples,
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Trouble…tribulation…affliction…crisis. In the world we live in, Jesus taught that such an experience is to be expected. But Jesus also taught a “merry crisis” worldview, one in which we can “take heart” or “take courage,” “be courageous” “never lose heart” or even “cheer up!” Why? Because the Lord Jesus himself “overcame,” “conquered” and “won the victory over the world.” The world presented many crises for Christ, but he overcame them all. We who know him and are “in him” find a kind of peace that the world knows nothing about and cannot take away from us.
Two times Jesus told his disciples before his final hours, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:1, 27). How could he say that? Why can WE experience a trouble-free, fearless heart? It’s because Jesus was troubled in our place. In John 12:27 Jesus said, “Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour.” What hour was that? The crisis hour of his death in which he would glorify the Father by giving up his life for everyone who would eventually believe in him. Almost unbelievably, Hebrews 12:2 tells us that he endured the cross “for the JOY that was set before him.” Even the crisis of the cross was a “merry crisis” for Jesus.
So our Christmas greeting to you this year is this: BE OF GOOD CHEER! Whatever trouble or affliction you are experiencing today or will face in 2021, you can have the peace of Jesus Christ as well as his joy to face courageously whatever comes your way. “Merry Crisis!”