When I was in middle school, I was a part of the youth choir at my church. I distinctly remember singing a song called How Great Our Joy around Christmas time. What is funny about this particular memory is that I recall being instructed to sing “joy” as “choy” (the j sound gets muddled and when a choir sings “j” sounds as “ch” sounds it is heard as the desired “j” sound…go figure).
This song is an old German hymn that talks about joy in direct relation to praise, especially in celebrating the promise of our King and Savior.
Joy is a word that is easily thrown around, especially within Christian circles.
“The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)
“Count it all joy my brothers…” (James 1:2)
We say that we are joyful when I think a lot of times what we are is happy. Joy and happiness are not the same and can (and do) exist outside of one another. Happiness is an emotion, contingent on your circumstances. Joy on the other hand, is contingent on nothing outside of God–that’s how it can be a fruit of the Spirit (whereas happiness is not). It’s easily confused considering the dictionary even defines joy as a feeling of happiness (noun). Though, the verb form is defined as rejoice.
We can rejoice when we are happy, but we can also rejoice when we are brokenhearted. We rejoice when our life is filled with blessings and we rejoice when our life is no where what we want it to be.
Joy goes beyond just a feeling. It plugs into the depth of who God is and what He gives each and every one of us. Joy redirects our feelings from ourselves toward God. It sees past the temporal and looks into the all that is in the eternal. That eternal with God that will be filled with pure, unadulterated joy.
Clearly, week three of advent is about the joy that came through the birth of Jesus and the joy we have to look forward to in eternity if spent with God.
Where can you refocus your joy this week? As we get closer to Christmas, I am finding myself more bogged down with the “to-do” list and trying to remember what I may be forgetting. Instead, take a few moments to relish in the “wonders of His love” this season. Take the time to remember that joy goes so much deeper than just a feeling. Joy is eternal and wonderful and gives us reason to rejoice, no matter our circumstances.