Skip to main content

Holy Joy!


            How does joy become holy?  It all depends on the object of your joy.  If your joy is about having a certain experience, receiving a certain gift, getting a certain reaction, then you will or will not have joy based on whether your expectations are met.  Presto-magic joy is achievable under certain circumstances.

            Holy joy is an altogether different experience.  If your joy is found in the thing that cannot be taken away from you, you can have joy in every circumstance you encounter this Christmas season.  Let’s say you are stuck in the airport for seventy-two hours while your dream vacations melts away.  That is definitely not a joyful thought.  You are hungry, tired, broke, disappointed beyond measure.  You can experience holy joy.  This comes from making the object of your joy the reality that no matter how this situation plays out, you will be stretched and drawn closer to God through your prayers and hopes for the resolution you want and acceptance that His way has to be better even when you can’t see it.  It is totally possible to find joy in hardships.

            Paul’s most joyful letter to the church in Philippi was written from his prison cell—now that has got to be worse than missing days on your dream vacation and being stuck in the airport for 72 hours.  I’m sure that Paul, being human, had a few tears and laments about his situation from time to time.  Those releases led him to joy as he surrendered to whatever God had prepared for him.  Holy joy cannot be created by human effort.  It is the total surrender of trust and peace that God knows what He is doing and feeling blessed for what you have.

            Sometimes it is hard to see the goodness you have been given when you feel like a prisoner in an airport.  In fact, stopping to realize how much worse your situation could be is helpful toward moving into holy joy.  When you feel like a prisoner, think about the innocent people who are literally prisoners, like Paul.  Realize that your situation isn’t as bad as it could be.  Think about your fellow disappointed passengers and how some of them are dealing with health issues you are not, or others have a fear of flying which is being prolonged through the delay.

            The birth of Christmas was full of joy.  It was holy joy.  There were tired pilgrims who were met with overcrowded accommodations forcing them to seek shelter in a cave used for animals.  What joy they discovered when they could make the feeding trough—the manger—a cradle for their baby.  The joy was shared when some dirty shepherds burst into their private place with tales of angels and directions and good news for all men.  They found unexpected joy in the old faces of Simeon and Anna when they were privileged to see their Savior, for whom they prayed, as a baby.  They likely felt joy when they realized the generous gifts they were given in Bethlehem by the Wise Men were exactly what they needed to sojourn in Egypt for the years they needed to be away until Herod the Great died. 

            Holy joy filled the Christmas scene most vividly in the transformation of the shepherds.  Luke 2:20 describes them: The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

            It’s a season for joy, but when you experience holy joy your life is transformed.

Copyright © 2013.  Deborah R. Newman www.teatimeforyoursoul.com  All Rights Reserved.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thank You Dad

Recently I have been contemplating why it is ingrained in me that I must be quiet and respectful and look at the flag when the national anthem is played.  It’s as natural for me as standing for the Hallelujah Chorus during Handel’s Messiah or for the Bride when she walks through the back door.  Like a Pavlov dog, my instincts go into action, and I do not even think about my somewhat conditioned response. Why?  It was definitely my own father who had the most influence over me regarding the national anthem.  I am not a sports enthusiast.  However, from a young age I found myself at sports games because my older brother played every sport offered.  Our family faithfully attended those games, which normally started with the national anthem.  I found a way to enjoy the otherwise agonizing experience of being held prisoner to my brother’s sporting events by gravitating to my friends who were there under duress as well.  We made up games of our own; we would laugh and talk throughout the q…

You Shall Not Be Overcome

I distinctly remember sending this quote by Julian of Norwich to a recently widowed friend of mine over ten years ago.  You will not be overcome.
God did not say you will not be troubled,
You will not be belaboured,
You will not be disquieted;
But God said, You will not be overcome.
The quote in one of my devotional books for July 23, which marks the day I became a widow myself is by the same author.  “One day God spoke to me and I heard these words, “you won’t be overcome.”  God wants us to pay attention to His words.  God wants us to be strong in our certainty in Him, always, both in good times and in bad.  The Lord loves us, and God so enjoys our company.  God loves being with us and wants us to love Him and enjoy being with Him and trust Him completely, and all will be well.”  As I write this six years since his death I can attest to the reality that all will be well.  God chose to bless me with a second marriage to a wonderful man who holds my hand through this hur…

The Worst

What is the worst thing you think could happen to you?  There are so many options in a fallen world that it is hard to consider the worst.  We try not to think about it.  We do think we are going through the worst thing when we lose a loved one, are betrayed by a friend or family, sent to prison, or become the victim of a crime.  You know the worst thing that has happened to you.  You can think of someone for whom you are grateful that what happened to that person didn’t happen to you.               The world is full of frightening and dreaded options of worst case scenarios.  When you read the Bible, it is not hard to decide what the worst thing that could happen in your lifetime would be.  The Bible makes it clear that the worst is that you do not believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and be saved.               That sounds like a Sunday School answer doesn’t it?  It doesn’t feel that bad to say “No Thank You” to God.  Many don’t even recognize the day that they to…