Christmas is a season where words like “Peace, Hope, and Joy” are widely used. But how do you find joy when there is no reason? If you feel like you are always rushing from one thing to the next and have no time for joy, this post is for you. If you feel like life is crashing down around you, this post is for you.
When you see others this Christmas – do some people watching. As you rush around to purchase Christmas gifts, look and ask yourself how many people seem to have joy. I’ve done this and the results are not promising.
The past year has been an emotional roller coaster for me. We have seen two of our children move out and get married, and health issues in our family have been a constant challenge. It has often felt like one thing after another is happening, and it can be tough to find joy.
Joy vs. Happiness
There has been teaching in Christian circles that says joy and happiness are two different things. It goes something like this: “happiness is for the world, but joy is what Jesus gives you.” No wonder why so many Christians can look miserable – because we have come to believe that is what we are supposed to be.
Randy Alcorn has written about this topic. He says, “Depicting joy in contrast with happiness has obscured the true meaning of both words. Joyful people are typically glad and cheerful—they smile and laugh a lot. To put it plainly, they’re happy!”
Where Do We Find Joy?
- Joy is the fruit of the Spirit of God in our lives – Galatians 5:22
- We don’t work hard for joy – we receive it as we surrender to God and walk in all of what it means to be loved and led by Him.
- Joy is true happiness because you know the end of the story and aren’t defined by the moment – Hebrews 12:2
- Our emotions can be determined by our circumstances, or they can be determined by what we already know about the whole story. We can endure tough times with joy because God has told us the end of the story (spoiler alert: we win).
- Joy is found in the riches of God’s blessings more than the riches of the world – Psalm 4:7; Ephesians 1:3-19
- Being rich and thriving in this world is not necessarily wrong. Allowing money or other circumstances to determine your joy will leave you on a roller coaster of emotions. Joy is found in Jesus and the blessings that are ours from God. These blessings never end – no matter what your bank account says.
What Kids In Africa Taught Me About Joy
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit South Africa. One day, I was taken into a school where many of the children suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. They are poor and coming from broken families. As we stood in the parking lot learning about the school, there was a sudden sound of joyful singing and laughing. The students started to arrive at the beginning of their school day.
I played soccer with these kids, had them try to figure out why my skin was so white and had my life rocked by a little girl who held my hand throughout the day as she looked at me and smiled the most beautiful smile.
These kids oozed joy. In my North American mind, they had no reason to be joyful. But they were not focused on what they did not have – they were filled with joy because of what they did have … Jesus.
There Is Always a Reason
You may feel like you have no reason to have joy, but God has been teaching me to take my eyes off what I see. Maybe joy for you is found in being “successful” in life, but God gives joy that is even greater than that.
If you know Jesus, fix your eyes on Him. Let His joy flood your life.
And try to smile and crack a few jokes this Christmas.