Joy In This Crazy Season
The sparkle in a child’s eye, the infectious laughter of a child delighted by an event or gift – pictures we often associate with joy. Children bring laughter and a brighter outlook on life. They are not normally encumbered by the pressures of this world the way adults are.
Great evidence of this is seen when children visit nursing homes. The residents respond to a child’s presence by sitting straighter, smiling, clapping, and generally brightening.
Jesus loved children as seen in Mark 10:14b-15. “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Just as most children do not worry about their needs, so Jesus asks us to come to him like children, trusting God to provide for our needs. This produces joy knowing God cares for us, just like parents provide for their children.
Frequently, people confuse happiness with joy. However, the two are different. Happiness relies on our circumstances. When things are going well, or our expectations are being met, we experience happiness. However, joy goes much deeper. Regardless of what is swirling around us, we know Whose we are and that He is providing for our needs. Joy is based on Who we know and not what our circumstances may reflect currently. When we are confident in our relationship in Christ, He provides a solid foundation that keeps us secure. That security results in a joy that transcends our circumstances.
James 1:2-3 takes joy a step further. “My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Count it all joy. As evidenced in this passage, joy is not based on our circumstances, but rather on the One we serve in the middle of the trial.
We may think this impossible; however, Jesus modeled this for us. “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2). Can you imagine facing the cross and experiencing joy? Jesus saw us on the other side of the cross – that is the joy He found in His trial.
As we face an unusual Christmas season, may we experience His joy. No matter what we walk through, He is there with us. We rejoice that He came to bring us into right relationship with Him. That produces a deeper, permanent joy that no set of circumstances can alter.
I pray you find that joy this Christmas season.