As a part-time musician for a decade, long ago, the winter holiday season was a very good time for me with many events and parties from which to earn extra income. Then, suddenly, my comfortable life changed. I was spiritually awakened and called into God’s church, leaving all that behind.
This false season of “lights” can be a very difficult time for those of us chosen by God to be His true lights (Matthew 5:14). This is a world that doesn’t even know – can’t know – the real Father of lights. But as God’s people, we can let that true light shine through a cheerful attitude in any and all situations that we encounter. We achieve this by first praying for, and then consciously projecting that cheer to others.
We know that “a merry heart makes a cheerful countenance,” but, sadly, we can all too easily let this world drag us down to its level. Jesus Christ spoke plainly to those He was calling that they would face many trials during their lifetimes, some would even be killed. But He also promised the Comforter, the Spirit of God, that would guide and direct them if they allowed it.
There would even come a time when those who killed the followers of Christ would rejoice at their deaths. Indeed, as revealed in the book of Revelation, two powerful witnesses who proclaim the way of God just before the return of Christ will be put to death in a way that all the world can see, and rather than sorrowing, the world will feast and exchange gifts after they die. Behavior that mimics traditional Christmas celebrations.
Yet Christ gave us this instruction, even during difficult times: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” John 16:33, NKJV.
Facing tribulation involves anguish, trouble, and persecution, but “peace” connotes quiet and rest. And “cheer” is even more motivating. It means confidence, boldness, courage, and comfort. The world around us is not a peaceful place, despite the decorations, songs and declarations of “peace on earth” that we hear during the Christmas season. Its trajectory is not going to be peaceful.
Yet in the face of pressures from within, from without, and through burdens and trials, we can have boldness and a quiet confidence that comes from knowing we are set at one with Jesus Christ and God the Father. Like many in society, we could become victims of our difficult circumstances and chase contentment through the “false gods” of our materialistic, hedonistic culture. Or, we can find the strength to exude cheerfulness and contentment, as the apostle Paul did, despite our situation.
We can enjoy this day, and every day we are given to serve God and our fellow men. When you and I can truly say that we have learned to approach life this way, we will, as ambassadors without portfolio for the coming Kingdom of God, be positive examples to those with whom we come in contact, wherever we are. Let’s be of good cheer, and let’s over come this world!
Herbert Van Curen