On my way to work every morning, I pass one of those electronic billboards, with frequently changing messages. Yesterday, I noticed a holiday message, “Eat, drink and be merry! Enjoy the holidays!” The sad truth behind this message is for some, the only joy they will experience during the holidays will be in eating, drinking, and being merry.
As I reflected on the billboard message, and thought about the Advent theme for this week, several questions came to mind. Where do you find joy? How do you experience it? Most importantly, what is true joy?
As followers of Jesus, we know a joy that transcends the temporal and far exceeds anything you might experience in the physical through eating, drinking, and being merry! In fact, this joy has nothing to do with our physical condition or our state of mind. It is a joy that, in one sense is incomprehensible to the human mind – what some would describe as “mind blowing.”
God is the source of our joy! There is an amazing picture of God in the prophetic book of Zephaniah. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy. He will be quiet in His love. He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (Zephaniah 3:17) According to the Bible, joy is something God Himself experiences. Jesus experienced joy even as He faced the horrors of the cross. “Jesus, the author and perfector of faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2).
Jesus said to His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11) Jesus wants our joy to be complete, filled to capacity, and overflowing. The joy He saw beyond the cross is the same joy He gives to those who follow Him. And, His joy, in turn, makes our joy complete!
Knowing this helps us understand the message the angel spoke to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth. “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
Do you know this joy? Do you live in this joy? Perhaps we need to pray the prayer of repentance and restoration David prayed in Psalms 51:12 “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.” Only then, will we know what Peter described as “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)
I wish you true joy this Christmas season!