“And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;” Luke 2: 9–10
This week is the third week of Advent. Traditionally, the JOY candle is lit. Joy may feel like an oxymoron in 2020 when one considers all of the crises across the globe. Not only does joy feel a little hard to come by, it may even cause people to feel guilty in the midst of so much global sorrow and pain. “How can I be happy when there is so much to be concerned about?”, you might ask. I would advise that joy is not the same as happiness found in circumstances. Christian joy is not based on that which surround us.
The joy of our faith is rooted in joy that is found in the Lord. It always has been. The Children of Israel found joy in the middle of their wilderness walk. The psalmist recounts this in Psalm 105: 43 when he says, “And He brought forth His people with joy, His chosen ones with a joyful shout.” Nehemiah, in the midst of exile, admonished the people, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
How do we access joy when we find ourselves surrounded by anxiety, grief, pain, and strife? The key to finding joy is notlooking to what you see and hear. The key that unlocks joy is looking to the Lord. David shows us the true and unending source of joy in Psalm 16: 11 when he writes, “You will make known to me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
The Apostle Paul tells us that joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22). I would suggest that when we spend time in the Presence of God—when we are rooted and grounded in His love (Ephesians 3:17)—we bear the fruit of joy.
Jesus spoke of this kind of joy in John 17:13 when He said, “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.” I will say it again, the joy of the Lord is not rooted in circumstances.
Dear One, your joy comes from the Lord. It is other worldly. It is also just around the corner. Psalm 30:5 tells us “Weeping may last for the night But a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 126:5 says, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
The season of Advent is a season of waiting for the birth of the Messiah. It is also a season of anticipating Christ’s return.. Our joy is in both. Consider Jesus’ own words in John 16: 20-22,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
“No one will take your joy away from you.” That is good news, Dear One! Your joy is rooted in the Lord, not in the world!
Consider the shepherds, moments before the angel of the Lord appeared. In the middle of the dark night, they had no idea their lives would be changed forever. Suddenly they witnessed the glory of the Lord. Suddenly they heard the message of hope. Suddenly they were told good news of great joy.
Do you find yourself in the dark night of the soul? Take heart. The night is darkest moments before the dawn. Dwell in the Presence of the Lord. Cultivate the fruit of joy. You will be strengthened to walk in joy no matter the circumstance. Suddenly your heart will be lighter. Suddenly you will see the glory and hand of the Lord in your circumstances.
May the Presence and joy of the Lord strengthen you as you keep walking this Advent season. Christmas morning is coming! Glory to God!
©2020 Deborah Gall
Artwork “Moments Before” © 2012 Deborah Gall SOLD