Is joy possible in the midst of a year of challenges, sorrow, and disappointments?
This third week of Advent is often focused on the theme of joy. Churches lit a joyful pink candle among the other purple ones in their advent wreaths this past Sunday.
We sing “Joy to the world, the Lord is come,” and “Good Christian friends, rejoice.” But are you feeling it?
Not that joy must depend on our feelings. It’s not the same as happiness, which is dependent on circumstances being to our liking. Joy is something much deeper, being more closely related to faith and hope. Beyond the trappings of the season, we look back to the birth of Jesus our Savior and rejoice in all He was, and is, and evermore will be.
The good news of this season has shouted down through the ages that our joy is in Him.
Many people put up their Christmas decorations early this year to try to get into the spirit of the season. On-line purchasing has increased, since shoppers are trying to avoid crowds in brick and mortar stores. This pandemic has created a delimma for families deciding whether or not to get together. We are missing the usual gatherings with friends to enjoy food and fellowship.
I know this is not the context Paul meant for this verse, but it speaks to us now.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. – Romans 14:17
But we want that fellowship with those we love. I was speaking to a friend on the phone about all this recently. Her family has made holiday plans, but it’s not the way they’ve always done it. There are limitations. Her children won’t allow her to hug her grandchildren. She said, “it’s just not enough.”
We’ve had losses of many kinds this year, and those stressors add up. Folks are dealing with genuine grief and may not even realize it, since they may not know anyone who has died this year. Grief reactions follow more situations than just death. Loss takes on many forms. Maybe you might want to talk about your grief with someone. It helps to talk about it.
If it’s genuine clinical depression, a visit to you doctor might be in order.
James’ directive to “count it all joy when you meet various kinds of trials,” is a hard pill to swallow right now, even if it does seem to promise a sense of shalom in the end. But don’t let Corona Christmas keep you down.
What we really need is a vaccine. No, not “that” vaccine. I’m talking about a big old shot of joy in the Holy Ghost to innoculate us against this viral defeatist mindset. Pray for it! Ask the Lord to fill you with His joy.
“that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4.And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” – 1st John 1: 3-4
A couple of friends briefly dropped by the house last week with a bag full of goodies. They said they’d been baking for weeks and froze everything until they packaged it up to deliver to everyone in our Bible study group. There were little gift bags of homemade candies, several kinds of festive cookies, and miniature Red Velvet cakes. Oh my! What a treat!
In spite of this virus, the people of God are still finding ways to love one another, to serve the Lord, and fellowship together – even for just a few moments or from a six-foot distance.
Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10
Even with the given restrictions, we must put the merry back in Merry Christmas. By His grace we can have it and share it with others who need that shot of joy too.
May the joy of the Holy Spirit overflow in your life and your family this Christmas season.