Advent Encouragement and Prayer - Week 4
Joy to the world the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!
Week Four: Joy
What is joy? So often we use the words joy and happiness interchangeably. While they are both wonderful feelings, they are quite different. Happiness tends to be a feeling tied to external things while joy is not reliant on our circumstances. As Christians our joy is not based on who we are or what we have but instead who God is and what He has done. We can hold both joy and sorrow at the same time. The gospel itself is filled with both. Jesus experienced incomprehensible sorrow on the cross, taking on God’s wrath and dying an unjust and horrible death in our place. But the writer of Hebrews tells us that even there joy was present when he says that it was for the joy that was set before him that he endured the cross and despised the shame (Heb 12:2). His joy is then passed on to us - because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are joyfully reconciled to God!
During this Advent season we choose to rejoice because of the great joy we have in Christ. Although we may be weary from the groanings of this world our joy comes from the Lord and through our dependence on Him. This life and all that’s in it is temporary, but the joy of the Lord is eternal. In a world that is obsessed with obtaining happiness and avoiding sadness our joy points to something much better. Our greatest joy is yet to come when Christ returns to make all things new. The hope of what is to come gives us the strength to persevere and rejoice even in our darkest moments.
As we celebrate Christmas this year these lyrics from the hymn O Holy Night seem extra fitting,
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices.
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
This week as we celebrate Christmas, consider taking a moment to quiet your heart and be still. If joy has been difficult to find this season remember that, “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” Psalm 34:18. Perhaps consider praying through a psalm of lament like Psalm 6 or Psalm 71.
Here is the Advent Bible Project on Joy.