A few years back I was having trouble reading a description of a show on Netflix. My wife was concerned about this, and said that was not normal, then asked if I needed glasses.
I laughed, assuring her that I had 20/20 vision. After a few more conversations, she had me do an impromptu vision test which I failed miserably. It was at that moment I realized I needed glasses.
A few days later I went to the eye doctor and got glasses. I will never forget the day I put them on. When I put the glasses over my eyes everything was much clearer. Through the lenses that my eye doctor gave me, I was now seeing the world in the way it was meant to be seen.
I think sometimes we don’t experience joy because we are viewing the world and specifically our lives through the wrong lenses.
When it comes to joy, we often view it through the lenses of this world, and we associate joy with happiness. Sometimes we experience the counterfeit of joy which, as Tim Keller wrote, “is an elation that is based on experiencing blessings, not the Blesser, causing mood swings based on circumstances.”
But, real joy is something much deeper and richer than just elation based on experience blessings. Real joy has been defined as delight in God for the sheer beauty and worth of who He is. I believe that’s what the angels were celebrating the night of Jesus birth.
"And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.'" - Luke 2:8-10
On the night Jesus was born, the angels were delighting in the beauty of what God was doing and the worth of who He is. This joy was produced by the fact a savior was born in Bethlehem.
This is the good news that produces joy; this baby lying in a manger came at the right moment. In the midst of hopelessness and despair, Jesus came into the world so we might be saved. He came so we could delight in God and experience the joy that comes from being in a right relationship with God.
This truly is good news! This good news brings us joy in the past. It helps us know that nothing is wasted, that God has been working since long before we were born for our good and for His glory. That He has been planning for us to know him and be with him brings joy. But not only does the gospel bring joy in the past, the gospel helps us find joy in the present.
Sometimes we think we can only experience God and find joy in the “big” things in life. However, the gospel helps us find joy in the ordinary and mundane things in life. Realize that each moment is a gift and a moment that God is using to help us experience all He is; To experience his love, his grace, and his forgiveness brings real joy in the here and now.
The gospel is not just about our past or our present, but it’s also about our future. The gospel helps us find joy for the future. It’s often when things aren’t going our way or the bottom drops out that we can feel forgotten. But because of this good news, that Jesus has come, we can be assured that we have not been forgotten. Job knew this and said in Job 13:18, “I know I will be vindicated.” The gospel brings a joy and a confidence in God for the future.
As you reflect on the Christmas story this season, realize that the Christmas story is about the past, the present and the future. And this good news really does bring great joy. Allow yourself not to just delight in all the blessings you have this Christmas, but allow yourself to delight in the Blesser because He really does delight in you. The realization that He delights in you, He is for you, and He loves you brings great joy!
Key Theme: Joy (for home)
Spend some time journaling or writing down how God has brought you joy in the past and present and how he will bring you joy in the future. Then share that with your family.
Key Theme: Joy (for parents and children)
Spend time asking your children what makes them happy. Then share with them how joy is more than just happiness. Spend some time sharing a story about how Jesus brought you joy even when everything wasn’t going great.
For deeper study here are a few options for daily Advent devotionals (click the titles to visit these resource sites):