But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. – Luke 2:10 NIV
“Be Joyful always, pray continually, be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”…”do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, REJOICE! Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Don’t be anxious, pray continually, and be thankful in your attitude….then, the peace of Christ will rule in your hearts.” Philippians 4:12
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine, though the olive crops fail, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I will be joyful in my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17
The idea that one CAN be joyful always has always been a challenge. A heart can quickly go to “the grumpy place” when things are a little troublesome…..and I do mean, even a little.
The people of God are to be known to embody and express joy in moments of great difficulty. The early Christians encountered intense affliction—yet were full of joy (see Acts 13:52). While held in Roman chains, Paul insisted on rejoicing (Philippians 3:1). When James wrote to persecuted believers (James 1:2), he exhorted them to discover joy in suffering. Even Jesus, as he was going to the cross, was motivated by joy. (Hebrews 12:2).
Joy for all people was declared by the angel at the birth of Jesus. Joy for those who trust in Jesus is rooted in the birth of Jesus, experienced in a life with Jesus, and will be made complete when Jesus is once again reveled to this world. The source of Joy is being found in Christ and it cannot be taken away. Like the generations that lived before us have demonstrated to us, joy is a choice—not based on circumstances.
C.S. Lewis once wrote “I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy…joy is never in our power and yet pleasure often is.” Pleasure is about the immediate, joy is about eternity. Lewis goes on to describe joy as “the serious business of heaven.”
Joy is found when we look beyond the immediate and see the eternal. It requires us to be counterintuitive: we can celebrate life even while feeling deflated by life, we can trust Jesus even when we struggle with difficult questions, and respond with joy even when asked to pick up our cross and follow him.
Lewis writes, “No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.”
The angel Gabriel announced, “good news that will cause great joy for all the people”. This season, and always, may we find ourselves desirous of this joy, and to be considerate of those who have not yet experienced the joy that comes from knowing Christ Jesus. May our joyful hearts be filled with a great desire to share the Good News with them as well!
Prayer: Lord, please help me to see that when troubles come I can speak words of edification with a heart that rejoices, no matter what the circumstances! You NEVER change. You are ALWAYS good! I know this this. Your track record proves it. I will choose Joy!