Be joyful always.
1 Thessalonians 5:16
If you’re looking for a good biography to read over the Christmas break, consider picking up a copy of Mark Twain: A Life by Ron Powers. It’s a fascinating book. For the Christian, it can also be a thought-provoking one.
Here’s why. It would be easy to make the case that Mark Twain lived a charmed life. His natural writing ability and riveting personality opened doors for him around the world. He became wealthy. He traveled where he wanted, when he wanted. People packed any theater where he was going to speak. He was a real celebrity, and he relished the part. He also married the love of his life, and together they raised children who adored him.
But based on his statements about spiritual matters, it also appears that Mark Twain never came to know the peace of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. As a result, his sense of happiness was always dependent upon how well or how poorly his life was going. He rarely forgave anyone who ever let him down. Guilt over his past failures haunted him. And when death later touched his immediate family, he spent the closing years of his life in bitterness.
Mark Twain received virtually every pleasant thing the world could offer. One thing he did not possess was a lasting joy.
Let’s be candid for a moment. Many of you reading or hearing this will be lacking a lot of things this Christmas. You may not have a job or may not have good health. You may not have peace in your family or have money to pay off past bills. You may not have an intact marriage or the love of your life close to you.
But if you have Jesus in your life, you are forgiven, you are at peace with God, you have no reason to fear the future, and you know that all will be well according to God’s purpose and plan. It also means you possess what the world cannot deliver. In Jesus, you have lasting joy.
Dearest Jesus, this world can only offer me passing distractions. You bring me lasting joy. Thank you, Lord. Thank you. Amen.