The focus of this December’s devotionals has been — Joy. Joy. That emotion that seems so elusive, so fleeting…
“Hey, could you guys pray for us? We just had a hard night. Had to deal with a suicidal kid…”
As I read this text just two weeks before Christmas, my heart went out to my son and daughter-in-law, youth pastors in Western Canada. My heart also went out to my older son, a PhD student in Ontario who had also been working with at least two suicidal people over the past week. But mostly my heart went out to the unnamed suicidal people…
What’s wrong with this picture? It’s Christmas! Christmas is the celebration of the greatest birth on Earth, the birth of the One who brings — Joy to the World! In His birth and subsequent death on the cross, Jesus opened the gates of Heaven so that we can be reconciled with God, the source of joy! Why is it, then, that so many people everywhere, Christians included, are seeking Christmas joy without ever finding it? Why is it that no matter how hard we try, this joy we seek continually eludes us?
Could it be that we are looking to receive joy, when in reality, joy comes in the giving?
I recently heard it said that if we want to truly experience Jesus’ joy, we must do what He did: We must give of our time, our talents, our resources; we must feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty; we must bring comfort and encouragement to the sick and the poor; we must pray for the lost and unselfishly give of ourselves to a lost and lonely world; we must be Jesus’ hands and feet on earth. When we do, we will be amazed at how we become filled with Jesus’ joy, the joy of Christmas.
But wait. We all know we can’t earn any gift of God…Where, then, lies the secret to this illusive joy of Christmas?
“Joy to the World”, a famous Christmas carol written by E.F. Handel and Isaac Watts, gives us the answer:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
In order to experience the joy Jesusalready came to give us, we must receive Him as our King. We must prepare room for Him in our hearts, especially when life is so hectic!
Is this the problem? We don’t prepare room for Him?
The song goes on:
Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy
When we prepare room for Jesus in our hearts, His joy will be the subject of our songs–even at the busiest times of the year! In fact, all of nature will echo our praise!
But what does it entail to prepare room for Jesus in our hearts?
Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus knew: “Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught…But the Lord said…’…There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it…'” (Luke 10:39-41 NLT)
Preparing room for Jesus in our hearts requires sitting in His presence and submitting ourselves to His Kingship.
And when we do, there will be an amazing transformation. Remember that God gives us gifts so that we can share them with others, and it is in the sharing of those gifts that we can more fully appreciate them ourselves: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…who comforts us in all our troubles,so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4 NIV). As we spend time in Jesus’ presence, we will be filled with the desire to share our Jesus’ joy with others. We will truly want to be Jesus’ hands and feet on earth, and in so doing, that Jesus’ joy will mushroom in our hearts.
While standing in line at the local grocery store this past Christmas season, our pastor struck up a conversation with the man behind him. The man was completely without joy, and he let it be known. When it came time for our pastor to pay the cashier, he told her to ring in the items of the man behind him as well. He then proceeded to pay for his own items as well as for the joyless man’s items. The result? It worked a total transformation. The joyless man experienced Jesus’ Joy. But not only this, our pastor’s heart was filled with unspeakable joy as well!
Want to experience Jesus Joy this Christmas? The secret lies in opening our hearts and preparing room for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. When we do, we will not only be filled with His joy, but we will also be filled with the desire to share His joy with those around us. As a result, they will experience Jesus’ Joy as well! Yes, when you reach out in love and touch someone’s life, even those who are suicidal, it will empower them to be able to experience His joy as well. And in sharing that joy, you will be brought to an even higher level of joy!
This Christmas, may you experience Jesus’ joy…Not just today, but all year long; and may that joy be so profound that you will reach out and bring that joy to others, for in so doing, you will experience even more joy!
May Jesus’ Joy be with each of you throughout the upcoming year!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.