At Christmas we sing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!” The words of that Christmas carol reflect what the angel declared to the surprised shepherds keeping watching over their flocks at night just outside the town of Bethlehem, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” The shepherds rushed into town and found the baby, just as the angel said. After spending some time with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, we read that the shepherds, “spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child…glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.” (Luke 2:8-20)
Then at Easter we rejoice likewise, declaring joyfully that Jesus won the victory over death, sin and the devil. In so doing, we are like the women who were the first to discover the empty tomb, “afraid, yet filled with joy.” (Matthew 28:8) We are also like Jesus disciples who “were overjoyed when they saw” him risen. (John 20:20)
But come to think of it, of course we are joyful on Christmas and Easter. Those are two holidays marking momentous events, giving us loads of reason to be joyful. And to a lesser degree, so is Palm Sunday when “the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices,” as is Ascension Sunday when the disciples “returned to Jerusalem with great joy” after seeing Jesus ascend to heaven (Luke 24:52-53). But for most of the year, can it be said that our level of joy is lower than on those special days?
How is your level of joy, generally-speaking? Do people think of you as a joyful person? No doubt, the world we live in has its fair share of troubles, and that might have you feeling less than joyful these days. Or at least less joyful than normal. Whether it is the war in Ukraine, the Covid pandemic, the abortion debate, racial injustice, or many of the other headlines in the news, it is normal human nature to get sucked into negativity. That’s not to mention the very real difficulties you might be facing in your own lives. Broken relationships, financial instability, health concerns, you name it. What is the source of pain and loss in your life? Has life affected your joy?
When Clint Watkins was our guest blogger recently, his posts (starting here) resonated with many people because of how many are dealing with tough times. But what about joy? Is it not true that we Christians are supposed to be joyful? Actually, is it not true that we are called to be very joyful? Join us on the blog this coming week, and we’ll talk about joy further, continuing our series on the Fruit of the Spirit.