We hear a lot about joy during the Christmas season. Songs about joy, readings about joy, Christmas greetings wishing us joy, commercials showing joyful people celebrating the holidays, etc. But it’s not always easy to get into the joyful spirit society would have us believe is all around us during the holiday season.
I mean, really, how could you not be joyful with the beautiful music, and sparkly decorations, and all the baked goodies, and the fun Christmas shows and concerts, and the buying and receiving of presents, and the beautiful snow, and the candlelight worship services, and whatever it is that makes Christmas special to you?
But maybe that beautiful music reminds you of someone, now gone, who used to love that song. Or maybe the thought of putting up decorations seems like too much this year. Or baking is more of an expectation than something you love doing. Or maybe you’re just too tired to enjoy special Christmas shows and concerts. Or maybe you want to give wonderful presents, but the budget just doesn’t allow it. And isn’t the snow just a great big hassle – shoveling, dirty cars, slippery roads? And those worship services with so many people you don’t even know crowding you out of your favorite seat!
One could find reasons to be a ‘grinch’ when it comes to most everything that seemingly brings superficial joy at Christmas. In my devotion this morning (Jesus Listens_Sarah Young), a phrase caught my eye and is sticking with me throughout the day. ‘I realize that whenever I’m feeling joyless, the problem is not the Source of Joy (God), but the receiver of joy (Me).’ If I’m focusing on secular Christmas ‘joys’, I’m not focusing on the right thing. The Source of Joy never changes. The reason for real joy never changes. Joy does not depend on how I’m feeling about things or the circumstances I happen to be in. Joy is found in a God who loves me…enough to make a way for me to spend eternity in His presence…enough to send His Son to live a life I cannot live, to endure a punishment that I deserve, to conquer death which only He can do. All the unfulfilled holiday expectations can’t change that. Feelings of loneliness, exhaustion, desperation, and Christmas crabbiness can’t change that. And that is the joy we truly need to be celebrating. Joy in Jesus!
So, if you’re feeling down or distressed this season, put your focus on Jesus. Read the book of Luke – a chapter a day. Find a good Advent devotion. Listen to Christmas music and really focus on the words. Cut down on the things that don’t bring you joy and really focus on that which does bring you joy. Focusing on the joy Jesus brings will never disappoint and isn’t that what Christmas joy (and every other day for that matter) is really all about!
Joy to the World! The Lord is come!
A couple of interesting facts: In the English Standard Version of the Bible, the words “joy,” “rejoice,” or “joyful” appear a total of 430 times, compared with “happy” or “happiness,” which appear only ten times. Joy is lasting, and it satisfies the heart in a unique and marvelous way.
A quick count of hymns including the word ‘joy’: 208!
Dawn Lubker, Ministry Assistant