“…and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls,” (1 Peter 1:8-9, New American Standard Version, NASB).
What makes Christmas such a joyful season? Of course, Jesus makes all the difference. His first advent gives us reason to have joy in our hearts for he was born to save us from sin’s penalty—the second death—and give us eternal life at his second advent.
The Apostle Peter probably marvelled at those who were able to have such joy even though they had never literally walked and talked with Jesus like he and the other disciples had done before Jesus disappeared from sight into the clouds of heaven. He commended the newer converts not only because they had faith in the Jesus they’d never seen, but they also loved him with all their heart. I imagine he was moved with great delight to watch how they rejoiced with indescribable joy, filled with glory and praise even though they never actually saw him face to face.
This takes us back to Jesus’ response to Doubting Thomas: “Jesus said unto him, ‘Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed,'”(John 20:29). We joyfully believe even though we have not seen his scars and touched the place of his wound.
Today, we also rejoice with joy so great that we cannot find the words to explain it. This is especially true at Christmastime. While many in the world are full of gloom and despair, we have reason to experience joy. How is this possible? Because we believe in the One whom we’ve never visibly seen yet love with all our heart. We love him because by faith we know he was born to save us.
Sometimes we go through our own despair and find it difficult to have joy whenever the pressures of life weigh heavily upon us. Anxiety, worry, fear, suffering, and grief take the wind out of our sails. Concerns about family, jobs, health, and the like lead us to question why we don’t have the joy we’d like even though we do believe in Jesus.
Peter would respond by advising us to keep our focus on Jesus. I can hear the old fisherman saying something like: “Friend, I remember the time I took my eyes off Jesus for just a brief second, and suddenly found myself sinking further at the point of fearing for my life. I thought I could do anything, even walk on water like my Master. But I quickly found how much I needed him to survive and live. If it weren’t for Jesus reaching down and taking my hand, I would never have been lifted to safety. And I would not be able to rejoice for all that he has done.” (See Matthew 14:28-31).
As Peter, we can overcome our predicaments by focusing on the joys our Master gives instead of the sorrows we feel. True, we cannot actually see him now. But in a spiritual sense we can see him through the eyes of faith.
When we remember his miraculous birth, the signs and wonders he performed when he was on the earth, the teachings he gave us to live by, his death upon the cross for our own forgiveness, his glorious resurrection to immortality, his priestly role as mediator in heaven, and the promise of his return and eternal life for all the faithful in the Kingdom of God, then we can genuinely rejoice with joy inexpressible. Granted, even though we have not seen all these things, we believe. And this belief turns our deepest sorrow into our greatest joy. In effect, our love for him grows.
Take advantage of the Christmas season to reflect upon the joys we receive through Christ. Look through the eyes of faith to see what you cannot see with the naked eye. Believing is not seeing but rejoicing in joy in the One who was born to be our Saviour and Lord.
Good News to You!