Everyone has them.
Questions that are hard to answer. Questions that hurt.
- Are you married?
- How many children do you have?
- What do you do?
- What do your children do?
- Will your family be together for Christmas?
This is called the most wonderful time of the year, but for many simple conversations are painful reminders of what’s missing.
My prayer list includes friends who are ill, grieving, stressed, worried, and heartbroken. People I know for whom answers are hard because life hurts.
This third week of Advent the focus is on joy.
How do you define joy?
The dictionary defines it as—
But if joy is simply great delight or happiness, how do we explain Paul’s words?
Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. 2 Corinthians 6:10
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Philippians 4:4
Maybe the answer is found here:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22–23
And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Joy is a gift poured out on God’s children, and it is experienced in direct proportion to the realization of grace received. God loves. Because He loves; He forgives. Joy pouring out of grace.
And that is joy. Any joy felt outside of God’s love shown through His grace and mercy is nothing more than the dictionary definition—great delight or happiness. But deep joy, lasting joy . . . “always” joy even when our hearts ache can only be received, experienced, and shared through the power of the Holy Spirit.
It’s redemption’s message given in and through Jesus.
It’s the gift of joy the blesses us to – love because we are loved, forgive because we are forgiven, and give because we’ve been given.
Joy doesn’t numb or deny the hard questions. Joy trusts that God’s loving grace given in and through Jesus is greater than illness, grief, stress, worry, and heartbreak.
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in His love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!“ ~Jesus in John 15:9–11
As you continue your preparations to celebrate Jesus’ birth may you be blessed with the gift of joy. Joy that goes deep past your hurt and hard questions; joy that bubbles over through you to the people around you.