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 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 being a business of Heaven is an interesting statement. The angel announcing great joy for all people at the birth of Jesus is what Christmas is about, but the idea that one CAN be joyful always has always been a challenge. The human heart can quickly go to “the grumpy place” even when things are just a little bit troublesome.
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 being held in prison 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. The writer of Hebrews expresses that 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. The church down through the generations has demonstrated to us that joy is a choice.
Joy is found when we look beyond the immediate and see the eternal. It requires us to be counterintuitive: to celebrate life even while feeling deflated by circumstances, we trust Jesus even when we struggle, and we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit for a deposit of the joy from Heaven even as we pick up our cross and follow him.
Lewis writes, “No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.” If that is true, then our business should be to engage Heaven’s work and participate in bringing Heaven work to earth. May His kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
The angel Gabriel announced, “good news that will cause great joy for all the people”. During this season, I pray our awareness of the great joy we hold will help us to find ourselves more desirous of sharing the hope we have in Christ with those who have not yet experienced true joy in Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to be about the business of Heaven. May I see that when difficulties come, that 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!