But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2:10
My wife and I each purchased one of these word signs a few years ago from a local Christian bookstore that is battery operated and lights up. Hers said, “Joy.” Mine said, “Hope.” Mine was the last of its kind in the store. So, if nothing else, I knew when I walked out with my purchase, all hope was gone (rim shot please!)
But what about joy? Is all joy gone in our world?
Christmas is the promise of joy. Maybe that’s why it’s so popular. The decorations in the stores promote it. The ads on TV proclaim it. The Christmas movies pursue it. Joy, it is believed, will be found at last at Christmas.
It sounds a lot like what the angels proclaimed at Christ’s birth. But is it? Upon further examination one might find they are not one, but two, very different, joys which are promised.
The ads promise if you buy this gift, your loved one will be overjoyed, and you will be filled with joy at their response to your stupendous thoughtfulness. Yeah, right. Tell that to my kids who actually broke every toy I gave them in the cartoon-like mound of Christmas gifts by New Year’s Day. They were none too joyful, believe me. And neither was I. Or tell it to my wife after I come home with a new Lexus and park it in the driveway without even discussing it with her first. She’d say, “I’ll give you a December to Remember!” Or if I bought her diamonds and then had no money for groceries for the next six months. “But honey, I bought it at Zales!” may not be enough of an explanation.
Maybe there is a reason why so many people find that Christmas just doesn’t seem to live up to all the hype. Maybe it’s because it’s been promising something it can’t possibly deliver.
So, what about this other joy? The joy the angels sang about? They said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news for all the people.” This is a joy that drives away fear! There’s no room for fear around this joy. This is a joy which is not dependent on your circumstances. The shepherds had next to nothing, yet even they could experience this joy. This is a joy independent even of yourself, your worthiness, and your deservedness. It doesn’t depend on what you bought, or how many Christmas-themed events you went to this season, or how many times you were able to watch A Christmas Story this year.
This joy depends on one thing: going to the real source of Joy. Like the magi and the shepherds, it means finding your joy in Jesus. It wasn’t found back in Persia. It wasn’t found across town in Bethlehem. It wasn’t found in Herod’s palace. It wasn’t found at the Inn. It was found in one place under heaven: in a babe in a manger. The Savior. The One who was sent into this world from the Father as His gift to you to help you get over yourself and become all about Him.
Joy to the world, your Savior has come. Breathe deep. Let earth, let you, receive your King. Your source of Joy. Stop. Bend your knee and worship Him.
1. Gifts often break or are forgotten rather quickly. Consider how you can give more experiences and share quality time with your friends and family instead of stressing about the perfect gift. Make plans to enjoy a play or concert together. Sponsor them for a retreat or get away (we, of course, are partial to camps and retreats with IOLBC!).
2. Dive into Scripture to learn about the joy really is and how it is not the same as simply being happy. We'd like to offer the below 31 day reading plan as a starting place.
3. One way to think about joy is using it as an acronym for the priorities in your life:
Who is first in your life? How can you be sure to always put Jesus first? How can you put others before yourself?
Dave Denzer is scheduled to be our featured speaker during