Advent: Joy to The World
Joy to the world, the Lord is come. We are celebrating Advent as we anticipate the birth of Jesus. We’ve shared about Living in the Light of Hope and Peace on Earth. This week let us reflect on the joy brought to us as we celebrate this holy time of year.
The Christmas holiday is an exciting time as we joyfully embrace the festivities, great food, and colorfully wrapped gifts. We take delight in the celebrations, the lights, and the warmth the spirit of Christmas brings to us.
But the reality is that Christmas may not always feel joyful, and we may struggle with our expectations of this momentous holiday. For some of us, the Christmas season itself is hard to face because of the lack of joy we may feel in our lives. Maybe Christmas is hard due to the loss of a family member or dear friend. Perhaps the past year has been wrought with challenges, and drumming up a sense of excitement over anything, let alone the holidays, is seemly impossible.
How does joy fit into those situations? How do we overcome the sadness or pain as we wonder if there can be joy in the midst of hardship, suffering, or grief?
Maybe it’s time we take a different look at what joy is and where it is found.
What is Joy?
And where do we look when we want to know about joy? The Bible. The Bible reveals that joy is ultimately connected to God Himself and the work He has done and continues to do in our lives and throughout history. Nearly every mention of the word “joy” in Scripture is tied to someone recalling the work of God or looking forward to the work He has promised to do. This is especially true of the prophecies regarding the coming Messiah as well as the accounts and statements found in the New Testament.
Isaiah 35:1-2 ESV says, “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing…They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.”
Chapter 35 of Isaiah is essentially a prophetic picture of what the coming Messiah would bring to the world. Here, even nature itself is said to “rejoice with joy and singing.” Why? Because the One who would redeem Israel would change everything. No longer would there be conflict, suffering, or sickness. Instead, there would be peace and love. And best of all, people would see the glory and majesty of God.
Where Can You Find Joy?
This is a picture of heaven – the reconciled and redeemed creation. That is indeed something that will bring joy to each of us.
But notice that all of this is wrapped up in the redemption of the world through the coming work of God. Joy is the effect of God’s work – past, present, and future.
God is the One in whom our joy is found. It is in Him and in the work He has done and will do that our joy is found. It is through the redemption we have through the work of His Son, Jesus, that we can experience true peace and joy. And ultimately, hope.
This kind of joy is one that is relevant to every circumstance. Possible in every situation – whether we are facing a season of goodness or one of unbearable sadness.
My prayer for you this week of Advent comes from Romans 15:13 ESV, which says, “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
Reflect on the words of Luke 1:46-55 ESV, Mary’s song of hope and joy. Fill your heart and home with hope and joy this season. Following the song’s theme, take time this week to express your gratitude to God for His love and grace through praise and worship.
Give the gift of joy to others this Christmas by giving your time to help those in need, offering a helping hand to your neighbor, or sharing a table with a family member or friend who is alone this holiday. Give someone hope and love this beautiful Christmas season.
Rejoice in the joy of Christ by remembering the blessings of Christ. Share with others how He has shown up for you and moved you to the mountaintop when you were in the valley. Embrace His unconditional love and acceptance!
Joy to the World
Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing
King and Country
Prepare your heart for the arrival of the King Jesus Christ!