‘But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”’ Luke 2:10

‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!’ Philippians 4:4
‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace...’ Galatians 5:22

December can be an incredibly happy time, especially for children and the young at heart. It’s as if the whole world is ablaze with light and fun for just a few weeks: bright colours illuminate the nights; unmissable events and parties fill the weekends; and unique songs and sweets and smells make the Christmas excitement reach fever pitch.

Do we ever feel this way about our faith? Have our lives been so radically transformed by Jesus that we are bursting with excitement about him? Do we readily anticipate what He is going to do next in our lives? Are we looking forward to the new heaven and the new earth?

There are repeated commands to be joyful in the Bible, but it is much more than just a momentary ‘happiness’ - like the kind we might feel on Christmas Eve. The Christmas angels have good reason to start their announcement with “do not be afraid”. The challenges of life mean we cannot always feel happy, but in faith we need not fear; joy is a fruit of the Spirit that can be ours even in the midst of suffering.

When facing dark situations, many people wonder if they will ever experience true joy in this world. This might even be how you are feeling this year. There must of course be room for grief and lament. But God’s word also challenges us to see our trials as “pure joy” and to “give thanks in every circumstance”. These are big challenges indeed, but perhaps it is what we need to hear. Our response to suffering is important and if we heed the Bible’s wisdom, then instead of being crushed by suffering we can discover a joy that sustains us and blesses others.

FARIDA

A good radio station carries the heart of the producers and presenters to the people listening. Farida Nazario is coordinator of Radio Wimbe, our partner station in the city of Pemba, in Mozambique. Despite the risk of persecution and increasing danger from insurgents in the region, Farida continues to radiate joy; a joy to the Lord that is regularly shared over the radio waves.

“I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I love Jesus. He has given me peace and joy in my life. I [first] heard about Jesus in my primary school when some missionaries brought a film about Jesus Christ to show us... When I was 15, I started to know and follow Jesus in a deeper way, and I found peace and happiness in my heart.”

When the joy of a Christ-follower overflows it naturally makes an impact in the lives of others. Farida shared the story of a lady called Ancha* that illustrates this. Ancha is a refugee and a new mother who had recently arrived in Pemba. Her baby boy was born with a disability and when he was a few weeks old he had trouble feeding and would cry throughout the night. As a first-time mother, far away from home and without family support, Ancha naturally found this distressing and was very anxious about her little boy.

When listening to Radio Wimbe, Ancha heard that they have a follow-up team that prays for people and helps them, so she took her baby and walked to the radio station’s headquarters. When she arrived, Farida welcomed her. Praying for the little boy and sharing some tips that helped her when she was a first-time mother, Farida was able to make a real impact in Ancha’s situation. When Ancha got home, her baby started feeding again and began to sleep for longer stretches of time! Ancha had this to say about her interaction with Farida and Radio Wimbe: “I know I have a disabled child, but like any Mum when your child is healthy and happy, I am too! I am grateful to the radio for praying and making a difference.


PRAY

- Thank God for the testimony of Farida Nazario and pray that He would bless her abundantly.
- Praise God that Ancha received encouragement from Farida. Ask God to send others who can support Ancha and her daughter on a daily basis.
- Ask that God would guide you past any fear you may be carrying and give you a heart of joy.


SHARE

Make a list of five things that you want to thank God for today. You could play one of your favourite hymns, worship songs or perhaps even carols as you do this. Why not do this each day for the whole week?

Share your list on Feba’s Facebook page and tag a friend - asking them to share their list too, using the hashtag #FebaAdvent

If you missed week 1, take a look now