Christmas is a joyful time for sure. All the traditions and activities of bringing families together and spending time together make for warm memories and much joy. But the joy that these things bring are fleeting and temporary. There is a deeper joy that the first Christmas brought to the world.
One of the most popular Christmas songs is “Joy to the World” and one of my favorites. It was written about 300 years ago based on Psalm 98.
Verse 1, Joy to the world, why? Because the Lord has come!
Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, was born, lived a perfect life, was crucified, paying the price for the sins of the world, and then rose again, conquering sin and death.
Jesus is our Savior. Let every heart prepare Him room.
Verse 2, Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns.
Jesus reigns as our King, worthy of our worship. All creation will praise Him. Even the fields, floods, rocks, hills and plains worship Him.
Verse 3, No more let sin and sorrows grow.
Jesus our savior has saved us from the power and penalty of sin. Nothing and no-one is out of the reach of His blessings.
Verse 4, He rules the world with truth and grace.
Jesus is our perfect Ruler who rules with glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.
These things are the source of our JOY. Jesus is the source of our JOY. And that is why we can have JOY in every and all circumstances. A JOY that is sure and consistent and permanent.
This year there have been a lot of reasons to not be joyful. Even aside from COVID – so much sadness, division and suffering.
One of my favorite verses which has encouraged me is Nehemiah 8:10. After returning to Israel after their exile, Nehemiah and Ezra were trying to lead the people to recommit to following God. As they read the law, the people were weeping, probably because they could see how far they had fallen short.
Nehemiah encouraged them and said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
I love this connection between JOY and strength. I have definitely experienced it. When I don’t have joy, I am weak, unmotivated, uncommitted. So now when I feel that way I have made it a habit to pray and ask specifically for the JOY of the Lord. And then intentionally look for how He has provided JOY. We can find JOY every day. As I recall these truths in this hymn and all the amazing blessings I have in Christ, then I feel the joy rising. And then I am strengthened.
So I encourage you today, if you are feeling weak and joyless this Christmas, meditate on the truths of the gospel and accept the greatest gift of all, the joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ and walking with Him every day.