Tidings of Comfort and Joy? — St. Peter's Fireside | Vancouver, B.C. 

by Julia Sterne
January 27, 2012
4 min read

This Christmas season I could not help but hum “God rest ye merry gentlemen”. I agree, it is a great song, but after weeks of it being stuck on repeat in my brain I was beginning to feel a touch unhinged. I even tried changing it up with different versions—some more upbeat and others more solemn. I tried listening to it- that only made the words more clear in my head.

Going back a bit though, I have to say I was drawn to this song for a reason. My heart was aching as we were in the midst of saying goodbye to all our dearest friends and my family. We were running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to accomplish all the tasks on our mile-long-moving-list (… oh sorry, that is 1.609344 kilometers for all my Canadian brothers and sisters reading this).

The first words are “God rest ye”. I was craving God’s rest. In the Psalms God promises rest for his people again and again. I have to admit I felt like I had been left out of the group for about 3 months. The song continues to tell of God’s goodness, and to remember he sent us salvation through Jesus, and that we can be take great comfort and joy in this news.

All I can remember thinking was, “Yeah, right”. What comfort is there in the news of salvation, in its proclamation. What joy and rest can be found in the promise yet to be fulfilled. I felt like the one dunce shepherd being sung to by an angel who was just not getting it. I did not feel comforted by these tidings. No joy was springing up in my heart. I was still in the middle of one of the hardest and saddest seasons thus far in my life.

So, I started to ask God for tidings of comfort and joy. Well, more than tidings. I just pretty much begged for comfort and joy all Christmas season long. The song repeating in my brain became a prayer without ceasing.

I love that God hears our prayers. Even more than hears, he gives us our prayers. That song was not something I picked out willingly (believe me after two weeks of singing just the first verse because that was all I could remember over and over in the shower with no sign of reprieve). So God gave me this prayer, and I sang, er, prayed it often.

This week was the first signs of his answer. We landed in Canada yesterday and my spirit feels light. I feel comfort in God’s goodness that he helped me get through the last 6 months. I feel his presence here. I am experiencing his rest. I am filled with hope about where he is leading us. I feel joyful.

Finally I understand what the angels were singing to the shepherds! They were on the other side of the difficulty. They knew the outcome to the story. They wanted to share good news with people who were still in the middle of life’s junk. I now feel that God was singing to me these past few weeks. He was saying it will be okay. He was comforting me continually with what he sees, his reality—which is a world without end, constantly in goodness, light, love and joy.

My version of the song became about my comfort in my circumstances. I wanted results. I wanted the pain to end and the busyness to cease. God sang to me, “Rest in me”. He called out, “Look what I have done! Let nothing you dismay! Remember Christ your Savior?” This song makes so much more sense today. God did pull me through, but even more, he is going to one day pull me through to eternal life and love with him.

Pray to trust his good news. Ask him to see what he sees. I hope we all can catch a glimpse and understand his promise is fulfilled now, even in our mess. Heaven stands open now. His kingdom has begun. The tidings of comfort and joy are not some promise yet to be fulfilled, these tidings are the summary of all God’s work completed in Christ Jesus. Amen. I cling to thee Lord Jesus. My hope is set upon you. I rest in your work completed. O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy. O tidings of comfort and joy.

about the author
Julia is a Registered Clinical Counsellor at New Story Counselling, and is a member of St. Peter's Fireside. She is the wife of Alastair, the mother of Ansley and Maggie, and one of the kindest people you'll ever meet. If you're feeling up for it, you can follow her on Facebook or Pinterest.

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