“I have told you this that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11
It is a running joke between me and my best friend, that I am not an outwardly, exuberantly joyful person; therefore she has made it her mission in life to help me find joy – as she says “whether you like it or not!” She gives me coffee mugs, ornaments, towels and anything else she can find with “JOY” written on it. She often sends me pictures and sayings about joy. I love her for it, and just by her friendship, she has infused my life with much joy.
She has also taught me a valuable lesson: Joy is wherever you look for it.
Our society has convinced us that joy is only found in the trappings of stuff, or the successes of life, or in comfort and ease. Joy is sold at the mall. Joy is tucked away in a corner office. Joy is having perfect children and an adoring spouse, all while surrounded by the best things money can buy. I had the opportunity to be part of a team that traveled to Haiti to minister to the Haitians with home repairs, building desks for schools, and painting rooms to a new addition at an orphanage. The people we met, worked beside, ate with and worshipped with had little to nothing – except joy. They were joyful, maybe because they didn’t have all the trappings of living in a culture of excess. They were grateful for their meager possessions, but it wasn’t their stuff that made them joyful – nor did the lack of possessions diminish their joy. They were joyful because they were alive. Especially in a place that had seen so much devastation caused by a massive earthquake and powerful hurricane in the recent past, they were joyful for each day they were given. I never heard shouts of anger, never saw any selfishness – in fact they shared their little with us, and did so – you guessed it – joyfully.
I have met people who “had it all” who were miserable, and I have met people who had nothing and were filled with a grateful, joyful heart. (Which, by the way, will be the focus of tomorrow’s Advent devotional.) Joy is yours when you are intentional about finding it.
Jesus understood this, as we read in Hebrews 12:2: “Jesus…for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”(emphasis added). Jesus, from before His birth, was a man condemned to die a cruel death, and this verse tells us that he endured His suffering with JOY. What was the reason for His joy? You and me. The “joy set before Him” was the knowledge that His suffering and death would give us freedom and life. As He agonized on that cross, He looked down through history and saw your face and my face and the faces of every person who would believe in Him and receive eternal life. That was the joy that allowed Him to endure, not only physical pain and death, but the ultimate pain of separation from His Father because of our sins. Jesus knew that joy is wherever you look for it, and He looked for it in the eyes and hearts of all who would trust in Him and be saved.
Where are you looking for joy this Christmas? In the brightly wrapped packages under the tree, or stockings hanging on the mantel? In your successes and leisure? In pulling off “the perfect Christmas” It’s not there my friend. Joy is found in Jesus Christ alone, and nothing else will fill your empty heart but Him.
Father, give me eyes to see the joy of knowing and trusting in Jesus Christ; for He is the beginning of every joyful heart. Amen