The first week of Advent we reflected on hope: Hope is waiting for something good we believe is coming.
We’ve pondered peace: Peace is when none of our parts are missing, broken, or out of place.
For generations, God’s people HOPED for the Messiah to come and bring PEACE.
Now, this third week of Advent is all about joy. Joy is the happiness we feel when we’ve received a good gift.
There’s a lot of joy in the Bible! People are filled with joy because their fields are full of flocks and crops (Psalm 65:11-12). There’s joy at weddings (Jeremiah 33:11) and when children are born (Proverbs 23:24-25). Perfume brings joy to a nose like good friends bring joy to a heart (Proverbs 27:9).
When good things happen to people in the Bible, they’re joyful. Makes sense.
But when bad things happen to people in the Bible they’re often joyful too. And that makes no sense at all.
The apostle Paul was beaten and thrown in prison and yet he claimed to be “full of sorrow but rejoicing.” Jesus was called “a man of sorrows” and everyone knows “Jesus wept”, but is there anyone more joyful than Jesus?
Life isn’t all blue skies and rainbows! The Bible says the world’s been broken by our own selfishness and sin. There’s so much death and loss and hardship here. Only a psycho is walking around with a grin on their face all the time! It’s healthy and normal to be sad.
But throughout the Bible, even people who are grieving, longing, waiting, and hurting also experience joy at the same time. How is this even possible?
Joy is the happiness we feel when we’ve received a good gift. And we have received the greatest gift of all: God’s love.
And God’s promise: One day God will come, wrapped in flesh wrapped in cloth, waiting in a manger to be unwrapped by shepherds and shared with everyone. The angels will announce his birth as “good news that will bring great joy to all the people.”
RESPONSE: Write down three good things you’re grateful for today. This little discipline is more powerful than you may realize. Science has even shown making this little list every day can relieve anxiety and depression! Writing out the good things in our lives reminds us of God’s love and brings joy.