A Season of Joy

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,

God of glory, Lord of love;

Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,

Op’ning to the sun above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;

Drive the dark of doubt away;

Giver of immortal gladness,

Fill us with the light of day!

 

Are you experiencing the joy of Christmas these days? Or are you consumed with doing all the things you think you’re supposed to do, measuring your ‘success’ against how well your social life, gift list and recipe file stack up against those around you? Do you compare your lot in life to your neighbor whose children are more successful, drive a better car or have a wall full of documents attesting to the scope of their brilliant accomplishments?  Can you EVER measure up? Probably not.

 

I think we’ve mistaken the word ‘joy’ with the word ‘enjoy’. If you truly look back over the seasons of your life, you will find that the greatest growth has come in times of greatest trouble. The lessons learned in those times have shaped you into the person you are today. Hopefully, the recognition of that growth will bring you joy.

 

Christmas has gotten so commercialized over the years that even the heathens celebrate with abandon, replacing the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ with ‘Happy Holidays’. I recently was gifted with a button that says, “It’s okay to say Merry Christmas to me.” I’ve worn it proudly and people I’ve never seen before in my life have clasped my hand and said
LOUDLY, “MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU!”

 

Joy is not brought by enjoyment. The world has made the pursuit of enjoyment lull us away from the truths that we need to know as Christian believers. Christ was filled with joy that had nothing to do with the money in his wallet—in fact; He didn’t even OWN a wallet, or a bank book, stocks, bonds, real estate or personal property of any kind. He wouldn’t have made any best dressed lists or won any popularity contests. Some of the things He had to say were harsh, pointing to the sin that made His life necessary in the first place.

 

But the proof is in the evidence that we have believed. He was the Son of God, sent to earth to save us from those sins we cannot escape from on our own. When I think of that, I am FILLED with joy, because He rescued me from the emptiness of trying to be what the world thought I should be. Since I gave up on that (why BOTHER?) my joy comes from a quiet, still place that is deeper than any human relationship ever experienced.

 

Joy is the second fruit of the spirit, only surpassed by love. Joy comes from the realization that we ARE loved—to the point of death!  What culmination of love can ever top the sacrifice that He made on our behalf?  How can we NOT be joyful when we realize the scope of His love?

 

This is the season of peace on earth, good will toward men. Even non-believers take time to do a little bit extra—it might just be a quarter tossed into a Salvation Army bell ringer’s bucket, or a contribution to a charity. The very act of giving brings joy. Jesus was a great example of that. Nothing made Him happier than being able to minister to a hurting world, even when they wouldn’t listen. The tiny core group who DID believe Him experienced the joy of spending eternity in His presence.

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ (Luke 15:4-6, NIV)

 

My joy comes from knowing that I too, will experience that perfect joy in that place. I will be joined by others, those I love and those I will come to love in eternity.

 

If you are feeling overwhelmed, perhaps even somewhat cheated, as you compare your life to that of others, remember that the greatest joy that ever lived lives in YOU. Ask Him to fill you with His fruit, that you may become fruitful for His kingdom.

 

Giver of immortal gladness,

Fill us with the light of day!



**original print date 12/2012



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