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Article: O Come All Ye Faithful

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In the weeks leading up to the Christmas season, my heart began to swell with child-like joy.  I could feel it rising.  I began to question, Is this ok?  Am I just having an emotional high?

In Hidden Christmas, Tim Keller writes that “even when you seem to be enjoying something else, God is the actual source of your joy.  The thing you love is from him and is lovely because it bears his signature.  All joy is really found in God, and anything you do enjoy is derivative, because what you are really looking for is him, whether you know it or not.”  It is, therefore, no surprise or abnormality that joy is being drawn out of our hearts at Christmastime because what is really happening is that our hearts are being drawn closer to Him.  

But for some ‒ and maybe for you, this year ‒ Christmas is a dark time.  Christmas is filled with grief rather than joy.  What are you supposed to do?  Choose joy?

O come, all ye faithful, joyful, and triumphant.  

The entire first verse and chorus of this Christmas carol is an invitation to come.  And though the carol may not say it this way, allow me.  Come with your grief.  Come with your sadness.  Come with your questions.  Come to the One Who said, decades after His birth, “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.” (John 16:20)  Before the carol speaks to the joyful, it speaks to the faithful.  To the one who endures sorrow and pain during the most joyful time of the year, you are the faithful.  Just as joy is derivative of His coming, faithfulness is also derivative of His faithfulness.  He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.  (1 Thessalonians 5:24)  The same Jesus Who came and shone Light into the darkness of humanity and suffering will take you into the joyful.  Your arrival to the joy and triumph does not depend on your own faithfulness, thankfully.  If we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself.  (2 Timothy 2:13)  

As your faith is tested and produces steadfastness in you, you will count the trials as joy and come out victorious.  Aren’t you glad triumphant is listed last in the invitation?  That placement serves as a reminder to look back over all God has done and brought you through, now defining you as triumphant.  When we come to Jesus who modeled for us how to be faithful during trials, joyful despite trials, and triumphant over trials, our response will match what the hymn writer penned in verse two.

Sing, choirs of angels,  sing in exultation;  sing all ye citizens of heaven above! Glory to God, glory in the highest!

Through the birth of Jesus and the blood of Jesus, God has made us to be heavenly beings, bound for eternity.  Our calling is to ascribe to the Lord glory.  (Psalm 29)  

Glory to God for the birth of Jesus.

Glory to God for the baby who was born to die.

Glory to God for the Savior who died to rise and defeat death.

Glory to God for His triumph over my sin.

Glory to God for His faithfulness in this trial.

And glory to God for how He is going to make me joyful, even if I can’t see it yet.

So yes, Lord, we greet You.  Joy comes for us every morning because You were born that happy morning.  Jesus, to You we give all glory.

And here it is ‒ the line I’ve been anticipating throughout the whole song.

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

Every promise of God is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  We have seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus at His birth.  We are seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus during our earthly grief and pain.  We will see the glory of God in the face of Jesus at His second Advent.  

Oh come, let us adore Him.

We come now, broken and grieving and hurting, but by faith, joyful and triumphant.  

Oh come, let us adore Him.

We will join the angel choir on that side of heaven and will sing with them in the tangible holy presence of God, “Glory to God, glory in the highest!”

Oh come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Jesus is Lord over life and death.  Jesus is Lord over my life and over my day-to-day disappointments.  Jesus is Lord over my trials and over my sorrows.  And Jesus is Lord over my faith, over my joy, and over my triumph.  

Jesus is the faithful.  Jesus is the joyful.  Jesus is the triumphant.  We come to Him because He is, and He will make us like Himself.  May this truth shine into every dark crevice of doubt that may try to threaten your faith this Christmas, and may this joy derived from Jesus Himself shine brighter than any wave of grief that may grip your soul.