Written By: Cathie Ostapchuk
“Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” (Isaiah 12:6)
With all of our hearts we want to feel the joy and wonder of the most beautiful season of the year. We yearn to be awestruck and captivated by the beauty and wonder of an Incarnate God who became small enough and human enough to fit into our world, without diminishing Himself or becoming any less fully divine.
Joy becomes a possibility as we consider the reflection of dancing, twinkling lights, illuminated stars, and anticipation in a child’s eyes receiving gifts they have dreamed about all year long.
And yet true joy, though possible, eludes us like a vapour. We want to believe that joy comes in the morning and in the mourning, but our joy is transient and tied tight to our contentment with our circumstances.
I am unable to access the wellspring of joy when I am looking outward to external sources. I am disappointed and joy-less when the Advent season falls short in satisfying my shallow expectations of social, relational and even performance needs.
Jesus Himself recognized that joy can be fleeting and encourages us to look to Him as the source of joy. “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22) Joy is only found in the secret place where the Holy One has taken His place inside of our hearts. We find Joy there in the grief, in the unmet expectations of the season, and in the quiet moments. We find Joy there in the singing and even shouting of “Joy to the world!” Joy emanates from the Christ Child who is found in our hearts out to the world. Joy was never meant to be found from the outside in. May we light the Joy candle in our hearts and then share it with the waiting world.
“They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
Father, help me look inward before I look outward for the source of true Joy. Help me look forward to anticipate an eternity where I will experience everlasting Joy, before I look backward to my unmet expectations. Thank you for making Joy possible. Thank you for making Joy permanent – it is the only thing I have that overtakes and overwhelms me. Sorrow and sighing undermine and underwhelm my living in the moment and will not be part of my eternal future. Thank you for making Your presence the reason I can sing for Joy. Take my singing and turn it into shouting glad tidings. I must shout Joy loud enough so the world will hear and turn away from the lights on the tree to the Light of the World. Would you help me wear everlasting Joy as a crown each day of Advent, and each day of every year, now and through eternity. May your Joy emanate from my heart so I radiate Your presence always. Amen.