What do you get excited about during the Christmas season? What do you wait for with glad anticipation? You probably have traditions in your family you look forward to every year. Maybe it’s the lights or the special music. Maybe it’s the time spent with family or the peculiar customs that make your Christmas memories unique. Whatever it is, these are some of the reasons so many people love this time of year. For others, though, Christmas is a reminder of the absence of a family member who is no longer with us or broken relationships and memories that bring us pain.
So far, we have looked at Hope (the confident expectation of the fulfillment of the promise in the future) and Peace (the ability to live with our hearts at rest in the midst of difficult circumstances). In this third week in Advent, we turn to Joy: happiness that supersedes circumstance. The prophet Isaiah gives us a glimpse into true Joy. It is the natural response to really good news. The fact that God’s people find themselves in difficult circumstances only heightens the level of excitement for the promise of peace, salvation and redemption the comes because He reigns and He will return.
We are people marked by good news. The Gospel promise of Jesus is the best news! We have received it with faith and wait in anticipation like we wait to open a present wrapped and set under the tree. Joy becomes our natural response the more we comprehend the magnitude of what we have been promised and see its value. Many of the presents we unwrap year after year lose their appeal as a newer, shinier gift takes its place. The amazing truth at Christmas is that Jesus will be more glorious and good than we expect Him to be. He will blow the doors off our meager expectations when we see Him.
• When you take account of your life, what past, present or future gets you most excited?
• When things are difficult, what situations tend to make it hard for you to live with joy?
• Spend time praying and thanking God for all the difficult things that will no longer exist when Jesus returns.
• Spend time asking God to give you perspective, excitement and anticipation for what it will be like when Jesus returns so that you have lasting joy.