A Meditation On Joy

By Matt Sapp

By Matt Sapp

This week is the third week of Advent, the week that we focus on joy, and at Christmas we have many reasons to be joyful. 

If we're not careful, though, we'll make it through the Christmas season thinking that joy is just the ability to put on a happy face—that joy is just some sort of naive happiness even when our situation calls for more somber emotions.  

Our culture has conditioned us to be happy all the time. We’re all expected to look on the bright side, to find the silver lining, to keep a positive attitude. It’s almost socially unacceptable to let other people see that events in life have gotten us down. All too often, though, life does get us down. Kay Warren wrote a great reminder last week that Christmas isn't always the most wonderful time of the year.

Happiness—especially when things haven’t gone our way—can be elusive, but joy doesn't have to be. There's a depth to joy that happiness lacks. It isn't swayed by the ups and downs of every day life. When joy is based in God, it's more steady and consistent than that. Joy can be what helps us through the worst of times, and joy can be what gives the best of times real meaning. 

This Christmas be reminded that scripture teaches that our joyfulness doesn't depend on our present circumstances; joy depends on God’s faithfulness. And God is always faithful. Our joy at Christmas is rooted in the recognition that God has entered our world. Our joy is sustained by the understanding that God is with us now and will be forever. God's constant presence means we always have reason to be joyful. 

"Rejoice in the Lord, always. I’ll say it again: Rejoice." -Philippians 4:4

When I’m stuck in traffic and running late,  
When I have more work to do than time to do it,
When I didn’t put my best foot forward,
Rejoice in the Lord always.

When I’m expecting bad news,
and get terrible news instead;
When I’ve hurt someone I love,
Rejoice in the Lord always.

When sickness reaches into my family,
When no one remembers to celebrate with me,
When no one is there to console me,
Rejoice in the Lord always.

When I’m discouraged,
When I’m afraid,
When I’m alone,
When I’m overwhelmed,
Rejoice in the Lord always.

Because God forgives,
Because friends care,
Because family loves,
Rejoice in the Lord always.

Because life goes on,
Because wounds heal,
Because harsh words are forgotten,
Rejoice in the Lord always.

Because Christmas makes a difference,
Because my church makes a difference,
Because I can make a difference,
Rejoice in the Lord always.

Because God is always faithful,
Because the Kingdom is forever,
Because God’s love never fails,
Rejoice in the Lord always.

Because God is alive,
Because you are alive,
Because I am alive in Christ,
and Christ is alive in me,
Rejoice in the Lord always.

Because God loves,
Because God is love,
Because God is,
Rejoice in the Lord always.

See you Sunday. Merry Christmas.