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At Christmas, I have observed that sad things are sadder and that happier things are happier. If you are lonely at Christmas, the loneliness multiplies. In December, if you are grieving, the tears come in an uncontrollable torrent and with perpetual waves of pain.

Conversely, at the most wonderful time of the year, if you are deliriously happy with your life, then the happiness of this singular time of year is immeasurable.

I want to talk to both groups of Christmas people today: those who are sad and those who are happy. This is what I would like to say to you: Wherever you are in your emotional spectrum, Christmas is for you.

Christmas is especially for you.

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The joy is palpable this time of year, is it not? It seems that all of Western culture celebrates with joy—even though they don't know what it is that they are celebrating! All these clueless folks know is that in December—there is an unseen reason for music, for merry-making, for gathering and for giving.

The world responds like this at no other time and for no other event; it only wholeheartedly enters in for Christmas!

Christmas is a singular season of extreme yet unidentified joy. Christmas is a source of joy both personally and theologically, and it is my hope that you don't miss the joy of this season regardless of what emotional storm you have found yourself in today.

Let's go digging for gold in the Christmas story together and quietly observe one lovely place where the word "joy" is used to describe what was happening historically. The joy of Christmas is especially for those whose worlds have been ruined by circumstantial pain and situational letdown.

Elizabeth was basking in the miracle of a surprise pregnancy, even though she was well passed the age of childbearing. She and her husband had experienced years of disappointment, unfruitful prayers and loneliness: perhaps you can relate with Elizabeth this holiday season.

When Elizabeth was in her sixth month, Mary, her much younger relative, arrived at her house. A heavenly messenger had already informed Mary that she had been chosen to carry the Savior of the world.

Scripture doesn't tell us whether Mary was sent to Elizabeth's house by her parents or whether Mary, herself, was desperate for Elizabeth's wisdom and stability but what we do know was that this meeting was ordained by God!

When Mary entered the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth, the baby boy within the womb of Elizabeth jumped for joy!

"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy'" (Luke 1:41-44, NASB1995).

The instant that John, although unborn, sensed that he was in the presence of Jesus the Messiah, he began to leap for joy!

"In His presence is fullness of joy!" (Ps. 16:11).

There is only one possible response to the presence of the Lord and that is joy—apparently even unborn babies know that!

Elizabeth exclaimed to Mary that this was no soft little nudging that she felt from the baby within but that it was a gargantuan leap! John was exploding with joy at being in the presence of Jesus!

The word that Elizabeth used to describe the movement of the baby within her womb is the Greek word "skirtao." The word "skirtao" is used only one other place in the New Testament.

"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for (skirtao) for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets" (Luke 6:22-23).

You, my friend, can leap for joy when your life has fallen utterly and completely apart, and that is precisely why Christmas is especially for you!

When we have been vilified and rejected by people and when we have been victimized by unfair circumstances, that is the time that we are commanded by Jesus to skirtao: to leap for joy!

I like to call it "The John-Jump"! I have had to remind myself many years at this sacred and miraculous time of year to do "The John Jump."

When my children are far away ... I do "The John Jump"!

When my finances are meager ... I do "The John Jump"!

When my family is fractured ... I do "The John Jump"!

When my heart is broken ... I do "The John Jump"!

I agree with the unborn baby John that when Jesus arrives in my world—I will certainly and instantly jump for joy!

It is in only His presence that you will ever experience true and complete joy this Christmas season.

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Dr. Mark Rutland's

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