The timeless Christmas carol, “Joy to the World” carries a weightier task this year. With personal challenges and a pandemic upon us, Christmas cheer may be harder to find.
We’ve seen countless plans shift to postponements. Many of the people and places we know became people and places we approach while wearing a face mask or we cannot come near them at all. As a lover of all things merry and bright, the shift from the familiar this Christmas saddens me. But in ways I didn’t expect, it allows me to focus more on the Savior.
The first Christmas, all the problems in the world were miraculously met with joy to the world. After all, the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) I see His joy in His unfailing love and faithfulness to redeem us from our sins. But it’s hard to experience His strength if I look away from His grace and truth.
Hence, joy to the world matters because when joyless moments come, what we believe matters too.
The first line in the beloved Christmas carol declares, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King.” Christ’s birth was heralded by angels, tracked by star-gazing wise men, and welcomed by shepherds. (see Matthew 2:1-12 and Luke 2:1-16)
He was well received in their corner of the world, but how is Jesus being received by you and me? What we say about Him, how much we recognize His goodness and welcome God’s will into our lives says a lot about what we believe.
At the angel’s appearance, the shepherds were terrified “…but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke 2:10)
I love this reassurance. I need this reassurance in life’s scary moments too. Amid panic and fear, God sent the good news of the Savior’s birth. Eventually, Jesus outgrew the manger where He was placed as an infant. At 33, although He was sinless, He died for our sins. Three days later, He rose from the dead. And through faith in Him, we can rise regardless of our difficulties and experience His joy and peace. (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 and Hebrews 4:14-16)
What measure of joy do you have in your world?
It depends on which day you ask me. But in times when rejoicing feels hard, those are the times I need to rejoice in the Lord the most. Earthly sorrows may take my heart and break it into pieces, but I can always take refuge in my God.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” (Psalms 34:8 NLT)
Without joy, sadness rules the day. Evil snickers. Bitterness pierces the soul and consumes us with thoughts that life is unfair, or things will never get better. But the angelic announcement of the first Christmas gives us hope. Regardless of what we feel — hurt, anger, loneliness, or fear — through Christ, God offers each of us great joy.
This kind of gladness is far more than being in a good mood. It is experiencing the sacred delight of knowing the God who is good. Even if Christmas cheer feels scarce, His grace never is. We might miss traditional gatherings where “Joy to the World” is sung. But joy to the world has come. And each time I embrace God’s grace and truth in Christ, I know joy to the world is still here.
When life is different than we expect, we can take a downward spiral or trust God more deeply. How does life look differently than you imagined this holiday season? What are ways you can experience Christ’s joy more fully, despite what has changed?
“5 Ways to Keep Your Joy (or Find it) Whatever Happens…” is a FREE PDF download for subscribers to the “Joy to the Soul” blog on joyawilliams.com. I’d love to share this encouragement with you. I look forward to connecting to share more hope for the heart and joy to the soul!
Joy A. Williams is a writer and speaker who is amazed her first name became her life’s mission. She is passionate about sharing God’s grace and His ability to deposit joy into even the most desolate soul. A licensed minister with a teaching heart, Joy serves on the women’s ministry leadership team at her church. Her years as a military spouse inspired her book Friendship MAPS. On her blog, she encourages sincere and sidetracked truth seekers with hope for the heart and joy to the soul. You can connect with her at joyawilliams.com, where you can subscribe and receive a free PDF of “5 Ways to Keep Your Joy (or Find It) Whatever Happens.” She enjoys living life with her husband Brady and their teenage son. Follow Joy on Twitter @joytothesoul, Pinterest @joy2thesoul, Instagram @joy.to.the.soul or like her page on Facebook @joytothesoul.
Read Joy’s articles HERE.