This time of year I usually bemoan how Christmas already lines store aisles. The pumpkin patch is barely bare, for heaven’s sake, but garland and tinsel push their way to center stage. And is that a Santa suit I spy in one magazine’s advertisement?
This year, while grousing, “Can’t we just get through Thanksgiving first?” a new thought pops into my head. Perhaps these early signs of Christmas are my “star in the east.” They signal me to embark now on my journey to the manger. To prepare over the next two months for the coming Savior. To find the secret of joy in the midst of a dark and difficult world.
And, so I begin by remembering the story of one who lost his joy.
In his early 20’s, Frederic Handel was the talk of England. Audiences clamored for seats at performances by this musical genius.
In his 50’s, his bright light of fame dimmed. Fans became critics and considered his music “old fogey.” Project after project failed until eventually bankruptcy replaced fortune. Handel’s happiness evaporated quicker than lake water in a scorching Texas summer heat, and he grew despondent.
As the months dragged by, Handel’s health broke. Palsy crippled his fingers. Music inside the once-famed protégé died, and Handel withdrew from society and life.
Then, one day a friend, Charles Jennings, sent him a package … a collection of Biblical texts about the coming Christ. The opening words from Isaiah 40 pierced Handel’s tormented soul, “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people.”
On August 22, 1741, Handel shut his front door. For the next twenty-three days, his heart burned with music. His new-found inspiration gave birth to the Messiah and the Hallelujah chorus.
Handel found the secret to lasting joy. He found a sovereign God with unlimited, unconditional love. He found a God who loved us so much that He gave His Son to die for our sins. In the love that embraced him with God’s Word, Handel found what the angels announced at Christ’s birth: I bring you good news of great joy for all men.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-5, NIV)
©2013 Gloria Ashby. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail.