If I could work my will… every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding.
Do you have an Uncle Scrooge inside of you? I do. My Uncle Scrooge is the part of me that’s boiling in my own bitter pudding.
If times are tough for Uncle Scrooge — and they usually are, since Uncle Scrooge holds on to grudges and disappointments — then Scrooge doesn’t want anyone else to be happy. Rejoicing just reminds the Scrooge inside me how little joy I’m feeling.
So, do you have an Uncle Scrooge too? If so, we can do something for him.
You may recall it took four ghosts in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to wake that Scrooge up to reality, to show him he didn’t have to live in bondage to the disappointments and mistakes of his past. While I don’t know four ghosts, I can offer us the next best thing: books.
These four biblically-based books have helped me reclaim the joy that Jesus offers. May these books help you pursue a life full of the Fruit of the Spirit, and not least of those, joy. -Adam Forrest, Zondervan
1. The Birthright by John Sheasby with Ken Gire
Is it hard to relax and enjoy life because you always feel that God is demanding more from you? John Sheasby’s book is an excellent guide for escaping this “drudgery of doing to the joy of being.” He uses the Parable of the Prodigal Son to help us see how we, as adopted children of God, don’t need to live in bondage to fear or to anything else. I especially recommend The Birthright to those struggling with anxiety, perfectionism, and people-pleasing. Learn More
2. Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
Shauna Niequist’s Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way is an honest look at suffering and how we might rejoice in the midst of it. In this “ode to all things bittersweet,” Niequist shares how God ministered to her through challenges that ranged from the uncomfortable (like moving to a new state), to the downright heartbreaking (like losing a child). One of Niequist’s insights: “Rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness.” Learn More
3. The Land Between by Jeff Manion
If you’re going through a big change you didn’t ask for — if you’re between relationships, between jobs, or dealing with an illness that won’t go away — I especially recommend Jeff Manion’s The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions. Manion shows us biblical examples of complaint and personal meltdown, and helps us see how God provided for His people in need. Learn More
4. Assaulted by Joy by Stephen Simpson
When Stephen Simpson became a Christian as a boy, he thought Jesus was offering him an easier life. So when things got tough, Simpson got angry. Throughout struggles that hit him seemingly because he was a Christian, Simpson found cynicism more comfortable than joy. Things changed when he and his wife were told to expect quadruplets; Simpson had no fight left in him. But instead of feeling defeated, Simpson felt joy through surrendering to God’s wisdom and care. Simpson’s book is a funny and true-to-life book about learning to live with the tension between joys and trials of being a Christian. Learn More