Try as I may, I can’t seem to keep my ‘JOY tank’ filled up on my own. The taunting resound of ‘JOY to the World’ compels me to keep seeking authentic JOY that satisfies this Christmas season and beyond. Honestly, I find it so difficult to push through my natural feelings and experience true JOY in the midst of so many undesirable circumstances. But friends, I have found a way and I hope what I share here will encourage you to choose the pathway to JOY…
Right now, memories of Bethany’s Christmas Eve ‘death sentence’ seven years ago are haunting me. I am aching for my dad and brother who will be so obviously missing as we gather around the family table. I have just finished wrapping presents and am mourning over one significant gift that I didn’t need to wrap this year… our precious Down Syndrome buddy, Andrew, will also be greatly missed. It won’t be the same without his hilarious antics and loving ways.
It’s not only the dear ones who are absent that are bringing pain to my heart this Christmas…
* Several dear friends are facing their first Christmas without their loved ones and two good friends are in for the battle of their lives as they face intensive chemotherapy this holiday season.
* Other brave friends are facing Christmas alone after divorce and my husband’s mum is still in nursing care after five very difficult years living in limbo with Alzheimer’s Disease.
* On top of all this, I am feeling the loss of some previously close friendships and navigating through some family dynamics that are going to make finding Christmas JOY a challenge!
Sorry friends! I admit that there is a bit of a’ pity party’ going on here. But I think you get the picture and it is my guess that if you’re still reading, you are relating to some of the disappointments and sorrows that Christmas time can bring.
Christmas does bring a lot of nice distractions though… a bounty of food and drink, generous gifts, dazzling lights, magnificent music, fun movies, etc. etc. I love enjoying these things with my family. But if I go to these temporary things to fill my ‘JOY tank’, I am quickly left ‘running on empty’. My underlying sorrows run far too deep to be healed by Santa and tinsel.
Yes, I am more convinced than ever that it is humanly impossible for me to experience the kind of JOY my soul longs for. I need to drink from a deeper well of JOY that those glittery surface things can’t satisfy.
So, where can I go to find the real JOY that is on offer this Christmas?
How can I BE Filled With JOY – the kind of JOY that my soul is parched for and my heart needs so desperately?
If you know me at all, then you know I am going to tell you to go to Jesus – don’t you! But please hear me when I say that I am not just preachin’ this to you – I am definitely preachin’ this to myself several times a day right now!
JOY is a gift from God by means of the Holy Spirit. In fact, JOY is a fruit of God’s Spirit that is listed in the book of Galatians 5:22-23. JOY is something that I can’t conjure up on my own – what a relief! So let’s see what Jesus says about how to receive this JOY…
“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”
Now be honest – did you think I was going to give it away that easily? If you want to discover what “these things” are and know the secret to true, everlasting, overflowing JOY, then check out the rest of Jesus’ words recorded in John 15… you won’t regret it!
As I put into practice what it says in this precious passage, guess what happens? Yes, I am filled with JOY! Not JOY that comes from my own making or doing. (Actually, my circumstances have not changed much at all.) But instead of wallowing in despair, I can sing with my whole heart this Christmas about the JOY unspeakable that I am experiencing in the midst of the trials, in the middle of hardships and sorrows, in companionship with the struggles my beloved friends and family are facing. Our Bethany JOY also discovered this JOY that defies logic and has an air of security and expectancy that goes beyond understanding.
When God’s gift of JOY is received into our beings, she brings along some special companions to journey with Sorrow and Grief. No, they don’t just disappear when JOY enters, but they are welcomed and comforted by Faith, Hope & Love who enter in on the heels of JOY – with Peace following not far behind!
True JOY is all bundled up in the gift of a babe who has utterly captured my broken heart. It is my sincere prayer that you too will know Jesus and adore Him this Christmas. Whatever you are facing and feeling right now, may you remain in His love, worship Him with a thankful heart, love everyone around you and…
BE Filled With JOY that overflows to bless many!