Mountains of colored paper, wrinkled and ripped, pushed behind the aging tree. Yesterday’s sparkling lights now highlight the dry needles, littering the floor where the presents used to be. Imprints of bows crease the useless frayed ribbons hidden beneath that pile of past promises. That once exciting horizon of a joyful Christmas has quickly darkened into the routine of clean-up and mundane reality. It came for such a short time and has left us no better off than before.
Quiet tables are haunted with laughter and glow of a family. Where he sat next to her for so many years, today fork and knife echo in the empty, silent dining room. Bruised little wooden chairs stand frozen in time, barely remembering the children who warmed their seats for a lifetime. That once comforting joyful gathering is sealed up in Tupperware leftovers today, for a meal alone. It was here for such a short time and has left her hungry and alone.
Time on the couch, wasting useless seconds watching a tiny video screen. A short time ago, value and purpose overwhelmed him when his little girls grasped their daddy’s strong hands for his wise direction. But today, unscheduled hours only recall the rhythm of his unbroken family. Meaningless minutes mock the precious seasons he previously forgot. Empty little bedrooms now whisper their past bedtime prayers. That once joyful time with meaning has faded into memories that he is not sure whether to love or hate. It was here for such a short time and has left him stranded in our present age.
Certainly, we enjoy the days of Joy. Certainly, our Christmases this past week were wonderful. Promises glittered. Family pulled close. Our lives were filled with grace and peace and towards one another. But the clock ticks on, and what do we have left on these day after joy?
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Rom 5:1-5)
Like Abraham, David, and the generations of faithful people before us, there is a hope greater than what we have seen. There is a promise greater than what we have experienced. There is a day to come where the happiness will be never-ending. And so even on these days after joy, we can still rejoice.
We are justified by faith. We have peace with God. In hope, we believe against all hope, fully convinced God has done all He has promised. Both in the times of celebration and mourning. Both in the moments of regrets and thanksgivings. Both in the days of companions and loneliness. Our days reel in and out of joy, but they will never change our hope, His finished promise, this new day in Christ.