“Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” These are the first few words of a well known and often sung Christmas carol.
For many, however, joy may feel far away, especially at this time of year. But what is joy, really?
The Merriam-Websters dictionary defines joy as;
- a: the emotion evoked by well being, success or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires
- b; the expression or exhibition of such emotion
Most people associate joy with happiness but how is it used in the Bible?
- In Isaiah 12:3 it tells us our joy is in our salvation.
- Deuteronomy 16:15 speaks of joy in the work of our hands.
- Psalm 16:11 says God will fill us with joy in His Presence.
- Psam 94:14 talks about joy from His consolation
- Luke 6:23 tells us to rejoice in our suffering.
- John 15:10-11 says our joy will be made complete in our obedience to God.
- James 1:2-3 tells us to find joy in the testing of our faith.
Joy is closely linked with hope. Because I have hope in Christ, I have joy. As a believer in Christ, in the core of my being there is a nugget that no one can take from me, with joy written on one side and hope on the other.
Experiencing joy in God’s presence is the ultimate goal, which brings peace to all circumstances. It comes from knowing to the core of our being the joy of being with our Lord, of knowing Him and his character. We need to keep our focus on Him and that joy which only comes from from His Presence.
Joy and hope when your ten year old son is being poked repeatedly to start an IV, so he doesn’t spontaneously herhorrage and die.
Joy when you can barely stand to talk to the one you swore to love “until death do you part”.
Joy when you are on a surgical table undergoing a procedure to see if you have cancer.
Joy when you are in constant pain.
Joy while holding your grown child and not knowing if he will survive the next hour.
Joy when you lose a loved one.
Joy when people you care about mock you for following Christ.
Joy when you see the ones you love making wrong decisions.
Joy when your car leaves the road and your hands come off the wheel.
Joy when you are in the pit and can’t see any way out, yet you know He isn’t going to let you go.
Now none of those circumstances are happy or easy ones, but there can be joy in experiencing His presence in the midst of them. Joy in the knowledge that he loves you and will ALWAYS be with you.
Joy in knowing He is waiting for those who love Him when this life is done. Joy when He shows you he IS sufficient!
His Presence can make you smile in the midst of fear, anxiety and pain. When you turn to Him and he engulfs you with his mighty love, strength and peace and shows you his glory. There can be joy in our circumstances when we have a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ and look to God’s Word for truth to live our lives by.
This should be our joy and desire.
It’s not getting the things we want, not living in ease and comfort or peace and safety, not having our needs and desires met by others, but in the joy of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. Our joy, at this time of year and all our days, should hinge on the knowledge that the all powerful, mighty and holy God, became flesh so that we could have a personal relationship with Him.
This is why the angel said in Luke 2:10 “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”
My prayer for you all is that, even in the midst of the madness, the sadness and perhaps the pain, you will experience the great joy of knowing Christ our Saviour in your hearts.