It’s that time of the year! It’s time to sing: “Joy to the World! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing…”
But, some don’t feel that way. Some will work a lot through the holiday season just to make ends meet. Some will be sitting in a jail, others in a hospital bed hoping to be able to go home sometime. In a couple of weeks, no 12 days from now, some will be opening gifts and others will be wishing they had gifts to give their loved ones.
I don’t intend to spread a “Bah Humbug” spirit in this article, but it seems like every year I see some who have the wrong idea of the saying “Joy to the World.” I am reminded of a time when my wife, daughter, son, and I were traveling to relatives’ house on Christmas Eve. The water pump went out on our car. Antifreeze drained out as fast as I poured it in. Our trunk was filled with gifts, a cooked turkey, dressing, rolls, and other such things, but I didn’t have a single tool to change a water pump. A local mechanic was willing to change it for me, and found one that could be there the next day…Christmas Day. So, as the sun set on Clarksville, Arkansas we checked into a motel room…they had plenty of empty rooms.
We ate supper in the room and when the lights were out, our daughter, in the third grade at that time began to cry. I wasn’t far from tears myself, but when I tried to console her and assure that everything was going to turn out alright, she confessed her biggest fear. “Santa Claus will never find us here.” I realized that Rebekah had the wrong idea of what “Joy” means.
You see, she was confusing Joy with happiness. Happiness is both temporal and temporary. Happiness depends on our circumstances while Joy is found regardless of circumstances. Happiness is like the balloon that brings smiles to a child’s face…until it pops or until they let go of the string in a strong wind.
Paul wrote to the Hebrews, “For you had compassion of me in my bonds and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods…” (Hebrews 10:34). I wouldn’t be happy if my “goods” were “spoiled.” I heard on the news that in the country of Venezuela the government decided to make all the poor children of the country happy this year for Christmas, so they confiscated (stole) 4 million toys from the largest toy manufacturer in the country. There might be some happy children, but there are some very unhappy factory owners, and probably toy factory workers as the “trickle-down effect” happens in that business.
Fun is another word that we sometimes confuse with joy. Fun comes from the outside and like happiness is temporary. It doesn’t last.
Joy is, according to Galatians 5:22, one of the fruits of the spirit. In order to get fruit from a tree, there has to be just the right genetics in that tree to produce the fruit. My oak trees don’t produce lemons and my one and only lemon tree does not produce acorns…never has and never will. In order for the fruit of joy to be present in an individual, there has to be the Spirit of Christ in that person. Joy is not the only fruit that is produced in the life of a Christian, but it is one that we include in our songs at this time of year.
With joy in our heart, we can experience a life that is satisfying regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the day of year, regardless of the world around us.
My prayer for you today is that you experience the joy that only God living in you can produce.