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Advent Devotion: Joy

Story told by Matt Offenbacher on December 16, 2018

When I think of Christmas and I think of joy, it doesn’t take long for Joy to the World to begin playing in
my head. Between the powerful music and the captivating lyrics, Joy to the World offers a compelling
argument for why we are to be joyful.

The hard part for me was that I didn’t really “get” joy for a long time. I thought it required me to smile
all the time and laugh louder than the person next to me. That’s really not me, and when I think of the
world we live in I don’t think it would be honest of me to act that way all the time. In reality, I was
mistaking joy for happiness.

Happiness is a moment. It depends on a state of conditions and emotions. Biblical joy is the anticipation
and expectation of God’s plan fulfilled through his son Jesus. In the midst of both happy and sad
moments, we can always be joyful as long we are reminded of redemption and restoration that is to
come in the midst of a fallen world. Joy is not just for the moment, but it sustains us for every moment.
In the scriptures, joy is present in both times of elation and moments of sadness. Psalm 16:11 states,
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal
pleasures at your right hand.”

James discusses trials as “pure joy” as they are a reminder that they are part of God’s greater work.
In Hebrews 12:2, it states that Jesus came down to earth knowing he was to
carry the curse of humankind upon himself: “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning
its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.”

This Christmas, we can celebrate joy as we see God’s supernatural promise fulfilled through the birth of
the Christ child - the Lord has come! This kind of joy gives us strength, fills our hearts, and reminds us
that the wherever our feelings lie during the holiday season, our savior is here - let Earth receive her
King. Our response to that reality should be no different to the heavens above and the world below
– and heaven and nature sing!

I think there is a lot of freedom in understanding joy isn’t an emotional state. It makes joy something I
can grasp regardless of my circumstances, but it does require me to respond differently. Our lives as
liberated people merit constant celebration and an ultimate yearning to share that joy with
others. Repeat the sounding joy, knowing that the world is filled with people waiting to hear the
compelling case for it. Joy to the World!