Here we are, standing on the threshold of joy come down, one more sleep until Christmas. Looking back at joy, looking forward to joy.
If you’re at all like me the past year has held it’s fair share of triumphs and defeats. Even the delightful moments have had a hint of weariness to them.
The advent of Jesus brought joy to the now, but I’m reminded the joy is incomplete. I’m glad I know that secret, it makes the long days bearable. In this way we’re so like our brothers, the ancient Israelites, who longed for Messiah. We still find ourselves longing. Longing to see the promise. The come One, still coming.
Jesus original advent fills us with celebration, and anticipation of his coming again overshadows the celebration with hope.
The fourth key to joy:
The hope of fulfilled promises brings joy –
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 16:11
For years, probably since my first breath, I’ve ached with what could only be called homesickness. But the ache is tempered by hope. Isn’t that the joy of all who know the truth, the hope of what’s to come casts golden rays over our hard journey towards the ultimate joy. When the news of illness, debt, betrayal comes the promise of no more tears or pain whispers “hold on, I’ll make it right in just a little while.”
When life’s pain stalks I sink my teeth into Revelation’s words, they never disappoint. “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:3-5
That’s joy worth hoping for!
But what about those who don’t know? Whose ache for a home is not eased by hope? Just like the dazzling messengers who burst on the scene centuries ago with shouts of good news of salvation we are hope bringers. For our neighbors, our co-workers, our family, it’s our privilege to tell of the joy we have now and the joy that’s coming.
Is your heart joyful?
I don’t know why but at Christmas the ache I feel for my eternal home intensifies. Maybe the groaning of this world clashes with the song of glory and creates a discordant melody. My year has been marked with orphans, injustice, cancer, broken relationships, and unrealized dreams. What about yours? No doubt you’ve felt the pull of this broken world.
But do you have joy?
Those painful moments can turn into a gift if we let them. Pointing us back to God’s word, back to the person of Jesus, back to the hope we hold on to – he’s coming. The contrast makes the reward that much sweeter.
I can’t think of Jesus’ second coming without thinking of childbirth. Romans 8 likens the world to a mother in the agony of childbirth, waiting for the birth of redemption, for the sons of earth to be revealed glorious.
I get that picture. No event has been more profound personally than the birth of my children. The days of waiting, knowing a baby is coming, growing in discomfort, wearying of the process. Then the pain, the terrible pain of labor, holding onto the good that’s coming. And in a final push of desperation – they’re here! Isn’t that true with us, we labor and wait, but we know Jesus is coming and it will be worth it!
Take it to heart
In the hectic moments of celebration I hope you will take a few moments to meditate on Psalm 16. What request does the psalmist make of God? Where does he say the good things in his life come from? What hope is the psalmist trusting in? What makes him rejoice? How does this psalm speak to your heart?
Let’s ask God to give us hearts of joy:
Father, we are so thankful for the first coming of your Son and the joy his gift of salvation brings. How can we even fathom such love! And we thank you for the promise that you’re not done giving good gifts. Thank you that salvation makes a way back home to your heart and presence forever. Thank you for the promise of all things made right, no more pain or sorrow, and eternity in your very presence. When life gets challenging in the year ahead help us to remember the hope that brings our hearts joy, Jesus is coming back and everything will be put right. We worship you this Christmas with hearts of joy! Amen.
I’ve learned a great deal about joy over the last weeks, I hope you have too. Thank you for journeying with me! I hope your heart will drink deeply of God’s presence and gift of joy this season. You can subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss future posts, and if you know someone who is looking for joy share this series with them, the more the merrier!