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
C.S. Lewis once wrote “I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy. For joy is never within our power and yet pleasure often is.” Pleasure is about the immediate, but joy is about eternity. Lewis goes on to describe joy as “the serious business of Heaven.”
Joy being a business of Heaven, is to me, a most interesting statement. I believe joy is the prevailing attitude in heaven, with gratitude and thankfulness coming in at a close second.
For a follower of Jesus, joy is that intangible gift that filters through all the layers of life and settles into the foundation of our lives giving it strength and vibrancy in all seasons. We most often talk about joy at Christmas, due to the angel Gabriels announcement, yet joy is for all seasons of our lives.
Joy can only be found when we look beyond the immediate and let the eyes of our heart focus on that which is ever-lasting. It requires us to be counterintuitive: to celebrate life in Christ even while feeling deflated by present-day circumstances. We trust in God, in the midst of the battle. We make a choice to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, looking for heaven’s deposit of joy even as we pick up our cross and follow him.
The church throughout generations has demonstrated to us that joy is a choice. The people of God have been known to embody and express joy in moments of greatest difficulty. The early Christians encountered intense affliction—yet were full of joy (see Acts 13:52). While being held in prison chains, Paul insisted on rejoicing and praising God (Philippians 3:1). When James wrote to persecuted believers (James 1:2), he exhorted them to discover joy in suffering. The writer of Hebrews expresses that Jesus endured the cross, for the joy that was set before him. (Hebrews 12:2).
“Joy to the world” was declared by the angel for all people. 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 revealed to this world. The source of Joy is being found in Christ, and it cannot be taken away.
Lewis continues to write, “No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.” During this Christmas season, may you once again see great joy as one of the wonderful gifts given to God’s people in Christ Jesus.
And since it is now officially December – Merry Christmas!
Prayer: Lord, please help me to be about the business of Heaven. May I see that when difficulties come, I speak words of blessing with a heart that rejoices in Christ my Savior. You are ALWAYS good! I know this to be true. Your track record proves it. I choose Joy!