And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you Good News of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11
It was in the 1800s that a missionary arrived in a small Chinese town.
It didn't take an expert to notice a gang of bandits had managed to destroy the little town and just about anything of value in it. To underline the scope of the disaster, a Christian native showed the missionary the ruins of his home.
He pointed out the hole which had once been his roof, and there were only a few timbers standing where once there had been walls. The furniture had all been stolen or turned to a pile of ashes.
Then, in a gesture which seemed to be the last straw, the Christian native pointed to his hymnbook and his Bible. Under his breath he whispered, "Not even these most precious volumes were spared from the man-made calamity."
Then, from the ruins the native picked up a single page, which had fallen from his Chinese hymnbook. He held it closely because that piece of paper was just about all that had escaped the flames. The missionary took up the piece of paper and translated: "Joy to the world, the Lord is come!"
Almost any individual in that village could have said the author of that hymn was wrong. Confronted by such a catastrophe most folks would conclude the world held neither joy nor a Savior. Some of those would bluntly observe: "God cannot be trusted. He has lied to us all."
Yes, almost any individual would feel that way.
But not the Chinese Christians. Years later, the missionary reported what really happened. He said, "Oh, if you could have been there that day. If you had wandered with those believers over to their little chapel, if only you had seen the light, which burst forth from the faces of those native Christians that night."
The missionary continued, "Those who had lost nearly everything were speaking of the home which Jesus had prepared for those who love Him. Yes," the missionary claimed, "those Christians knew joy has been given to the world, and that joy is only with us because the Lord has come!"
Looking back on this past year, I cannot guess what disasters, disappointments and discouragements have come your way. I don't know how greatly you have experienced the setbacks, surprises, the sadness, and sorrow that comes in a world filled with sin. No, I cannot guess your particular situation.
But the Lord knows what has happened to you in the past, and He knows what will come to you in the future. He knows and because He knows that and because He never forgets what His Son has done to rescue you, He has sent His angels with the truest message you will ever hear. The message says you are blest because the Lord has sent ... Good News of great joy which is for all people.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, no matter what bad things happen -- no matter what tragedies may arrive -- keep me ever mindful that Jesus has brought salvation. Because of His sacrifice we always have Good News of great joy. In His Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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