‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, ‘cept Dad and his spouse.
Their faces were haggard, all wrinkled with care.
They looked at each other and sighed with despair.

Could they both be enjoying the presents they got?
From the looks on their faces, we knew they were not.
It was simple to us what was causing their ills.
They were figuring out how to pay all those bills.

Behind all the festivities surrounding Christmastime, there is often an emptiness in people’s hearts which cannot be masked by the brightest of smiles. Some feel pressured from the enormous debt incurred during the holiday season. Others experience dissatisfaction from unmet expectations: the shirt was too small; the sweater was the wrong color; the long-awaited gift never showed up beneath the tree; the in-laws didn’t bring the casserole as they had promised. Many people also carry baggage from heartaches endured earlier in the year, and then try their hardest to forget when Christmas comes.

Hard as we try to prove the contrary, no pre-planned event can bring joy to the world. The emptiness which gnaws away at our hearts can only be filled by one Person—and He is usually the last Person on our guest lists.

Jesus came to Earth with nothing. He expected nothing at His arrival—and He wasn’t disappointed. There was no fanfare, no glitz or glamour. As for His financial status, Jesus abandoned the robes and riches of Heaven to embrace the swaddling clothes of an infant peasant. He never had to recover from overspending. Rather than demanding the right set of circumstances to foster His joy and contentment, He brought joy to others.

If you have real joy this Christmas, you are in the minority. See that your tribe increases by telling others how they can experience the same joy today.

The Bible talks plentifully about joy, but it nowhere talks about a “happy Christian.” Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not. Remember, Jesus Christ had joy . . . . — Oswald Chambers

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.