Sunday, 11 December 2016
Though even the dictionary confuses joy with happiness, calling the former "a state of happiness or felicity", when Christians talk about joy we mean something much deeper. You see, happiness relies more on feelings and our level of happiness can go up and down like a carousel horse depending on our circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, comes from our relationship with God and exists regardless of what's going on in our lives.
A friend recently pointed out that we often think of joy as a positive in our lives, but not necessarily as a strength. However, the Bible tells us in Nehemiah 8:10 that "the joy of the Lord is your strength." It is this joy, this strength, that helps us to press forward in difficult times when we might otherwise feel like giving up.
Christmas is a happy time for many people - there's the prospect of being together with family, the delight in giving and receiving gifts, the Christmas music and movies, the parties, the food. But there are those who do not look forward to the season. Perhaps they've lost a loved one this year or can't get together with family or friends, perhaps they've run into financial difficulty and can't afford much of a celebration. Even in sadness and loss, they can reach into a deep well of joy and know that God is still with them and will never leave them.
If you know someone who is going through hardship this Christmas, why don't you remind them of the joy they have? Remind them that Jesus is also called Emmanuel, "God with us", and be Jesus with skin on to them.
Have a joyful Christmas.