We were married five days before Christmas. We spoke our vows to each other and before God and the congregation. Making those promises was pure joy - with a few butterflies. We would discover in the ensuing years that keeping a promise is more difficult than making one. Life had many twists and turns, and many challenges. Yet the promise held.  

It is a reminder to me of another promise - the first promise that God made in the aftermath of Adam and Eve’s sin. Yes, Satan would bruise man’s heel, but his head would someday be crushed.

That long awaited promise was fulfilled in a manger in Bethlehem. The angels brought “tidings of great joy”! But the joy of Jesus’ birth was soon overshadowed by a cross. The cross was essential to the keeping of the promise although it did not seem so. The promise seemed unfulfilled and the joy seemed lost. The disciples expressed their disappointment after his crucifixion  “We had hoped that he was the one. . .”  

The sequel to the crucifixion was His resurrection. His resurrection was followed by ascension and more unfolding of the Genesis promise. 

“I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.”  The Father sent the Son. The Son sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit in us - Which is Joy!

There is joy in the promise. Even if the promise has not yet been completely fulfilled, it is not empty. And we are not without joy. There is joy in expectation.  “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross.”  There is joy set before us just as there was joy set before Jesus – a joy that  enabled Him to endure the cross. The joy set before Him was the redemption of mankind, to set captives free – to remove the “sting of death” 

We keep our eyes on the joy set before us . . . the hope that does not disappoint. 

Anticipation is joy! We can have joy in the promise now AND we can anticipate “future joy!” We can be certain because the promised joy is promised by One who keeps His promises. “Not one word of His good promises shall fail.” 

This brings me back to the beginning – our wedding day – our vows. I felt secure and loved through every changing season of our life together because Jim was a man of his word.

God is a God of His Word. He is the promise maker and He is the promise keeper.

When the angels sang of great joy at His birth, it was only part of the promise unfolding, but it was far from all of the promise.

“For this purpose I have come into the world.” Jesus was referring to His death, His resurrection, His ascension back to the Father and His coming again in triumph. There is joy in anticipation of “what God has prepared for those who love Him and are called by His name.” Joy in believing the promise! Joy in anticipating the promise fulfilled!

“O, Joy that seeks me through the pain, I dare not close my heart to Thee. I trace the rainbow through the rain and know the promise is not vain, life that shall endless be.”   

~ Oleta Bruton