Advent Devotional - Day 20

Friday, December 18
Matthew 5:11-12, Acts 13:50-52, Hebrews 12:1-3

I can vividly remember the first 5K I ever ran. I was a freshman in college, in relatively good shape, and had never run over 1 mile before. I signed up with some sorority sisters to support a local charity and did absolutely nothing to prepare for it. I figured it would be easy, dare I say it would be fun…

The run itself was anything but fun. I wasn’t dressed appropriately, hadn’t drank enough water beforehand, and started out running way too fast. My sorority sisters who were used to running those distances left me behind, the side-stitches never seemed to let up, and I was embarrassed by how many times I had to stop and walk.

I hated every step of those 3.1 miles and couldn’t wait to be done, so I could stop running! But, then the strangest thing happened after I crossed the finish line. People were cheering for me despite my lackluster performance. I was welcomed by my friends with high-five’s and slaps on the back. A smile crept across my face even as I was still gasping for air. I was hooked even before the infamous “runner’s high” hit me.

Don’t get me wrong, the best part of any run is when it is over! I still hate every step of my runs, especially when it’s cold, when my joints ache, and when I’d rather be doing just about anything other than moving my body. But that same joy I felt after finishing that first race still floods me everytime I finish a run.

People often question my sanity when I talk about how many 5Ks and half-marathons I’ve willingly ran. It seems illogical to them that I could find joy through something so physically challenging and difficult.

But joy isn’t always logical. It finds us despite our circumstances. It can feel unnatural to laugh at a joke as we’re actively grieving the loss of a loved one, but it slips out anyway. When life deals you a blow and you’re struggling to pick up the pieces, it seems inappropriate to indulge in fun, but fun seems to find us anyway.

Where does that inescapable joy come from? The answer is in one of my favorite Christmas hymns. Jesus brought that joy to the world, and He continues to bring us that joy today. And that joy is a gift meant to be enjoyed even amidst difficult circumstances. So no matter where you find yourself this Christmas season, find that joy and share it with others.

Reflection by Amy Sanders

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