During my senior year at Luther South High School in Chicago, IL, I was the accompanist for the 71-voice A Cappella Choir, South’s concert ensemble. As December approached, we had the opportunity to record a Christmas album for Delta Records. The sessions took place on 2 midweek evenings following a full day of classes. The 12 songs comprising the album were recorded as often as time would allow to achieve the best possible results. Despite our exhaustion from long hours of perseverance through countless mistakes and retakes, there was joy in the final product.
When the foundation of our faith and life is turned upside down by adversity, we become incredulous at the seemingly preposterous proposition that we will ever again experience joy as we once knew it. James 1:2-4, as paraphrased by The Message (NavPress, 2002), is particularly instructive and to the point in directing us toward restoring our joy:
“Consider it a sheer gift when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you can become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
Just as the A Cappella Choir needed to smooth over the rough spots in its recording performances to create a “joyful noise”, the Lord refines and purifies our hearts so that we, as the prophet Malachi exhorts, will joyfully bring Him our offerings in righteousness:
“. . . and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.”- Malachi 3:3
As we reflect on the gift of the Christ Child this Christmas, may He created a pure heart within us and restore the joy of our salvation!