The Anticipation of Joy
December 12-18, 2021
Joy is a theme that runs through the whole Bible. Sometimes joy is connected to beauty. But the Bible also talks about a kind of joy not based on happy circumstances but based on the anticipation of God’s promises. We’re going to consider the anticipation of joy in God’s promises.
"I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." (Psalm 30:1-5)
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 12:2-6)
Have you ever seen those ads where parents surprise their children with a trip to Disney World? Those moments are filled with pure, unadulterated happiness. But happiness is different from joy. Happiness is fleeting. A wonderful feeling, but fleeting nonetheless. With joy, a child whose birthday trip to Disney was ruined could still remain joyful knowing Mom and Dad still love, care, and value them. Happiness may make our hearts beat faster, but joy is the underlying heartbeat of stable emotions.
The fact that Christ’s coming means joy for the world, then, doesn’t allude to our happiness. It speaks of our salvation. The joy of Christ is something we can rest our identity in because it will never fade, betray, or disappoint. The only thing that can truly satisfy us, truly sustain our joy, is Jesus. People, jobs, riches, power–all will mess with our stability on some level, but Jesus never will. To be whole, healthy, and truly satisfied, we need Jesus. The angels sang, “Do not be afraid. I bring you great news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
This week of Advent we look forward to a coming Christ who brings true and lasting joy. His joy permeates the foundations of our souls and offers us all of the acceptance, satisfaction, identity, purpose, and wealth that we need. Nothing before or since has delivered this lasting joy. So we anticipate the promise of a soul stabilized by the joy of Christ.
Come, Lord Jesus, the joy of the world.
Pray this prayer throughout the day. Every time you sit down at a meal or sit at a red light, breathe this prayer and let God remind you of the joy he brings to the earth. For this week, also pray this in moments of monotony—reminding us that the joy of Christ isn’t only in moments that bring us happiness, but in every moment of our lives.
“Father, fill my life with joy, and help me to be an instrument of joy.”
Joy to the World
Arrangement by Isaac Watts & George Frideric Handel
YouTube Video: Joy to the World by The Kingdom Choir
1. Can you tell the difference between joy and happiness in your life? In what areas?
2. How can you add the joy of Christ to moments of disappointment, weakness, or despair?
3. What do you think the world would be like, or will be like if there was peace everywhere?
In John 17, Jesus prayed that his disciples would have the full measure of his joy. Part of the way we experience the joy of Christ is through relationships and community. Idea: This week, do something out of the ordinary with your family, small group, or community. Take a break from everyday tasks and reflect on how the Coming King wants to bring joy and satisfaction to your souls.
As the church, we are also called to spread joy to this earth. Idea: Sometime this week, bring hot chocolate or coffee to a few Salvation Army bell ringers. Let them know that even in the mundane, this season is about spreading the joy of Christ.
Home: Write compliments on sticky notes and leave them on your parents’ bathroom mirror each morning for a week. You’ll bring a smile to their faces first thing each morning!
School: Bake Christmas cookies and leave them anonymously in the teacher’s lounge at school. The school staff will love this surprise holiday treat.
Community: Visit a neighbor or friend who lives alone. Deliver hot cocoa and cookies, and serenade your friend with a few favorite Christmas carols.