Joy to the World! Smiling is my favorite! 

Christmas time is a time of joy, right? Christmas is meant to be a time of joy, yet this time of year is often the hardest for so many people. You or someone you know may find yourself reminded of loved ones lost, difficult childhood moments as a family, or maybe just some of life's disappointments. How can we be merry and bright with these challenges weighing over our hearts? tumblr_ld437wo7Ur1qay2gro1_500Joy in the midst of weighty situations can be seen even in our Christmas story:

Luke 1:26-29 NLT "In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, 'Greetings favored woman! The Lord is with you!' Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.'" 

Mary was about to be given a weighty situation. A poor, politically marginalized, unmarried, teenager was about to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. In her Jewish community, she could be stoned to death for getting pregnant outside of marriage. When she received this news, do you think she immediately felt joy? Do you think she was smiling? No! She was disturbed and confused, BUT she tried to think what the angle could mean. She opened herself up to God's possibilities for her life.

Even on days you may be discouraged, remember God has a plan for your life. He wants to use you to bless other people. Open your heart up to the possibility of joy that defies reason this Christmas season. Even in this midst of discouragement there can be beautiful moments of faith, love, and community.

Action Step: Smile 

You may have a day or moment this week where you feel discouraged or down. In this moment, open yourself up to be used by God to bless someone. Smile at those around you. Pray for them. They may need it more than you realize. And who knows; embracing joy may even bless you too.

 Photo credit: Megan Davis