But what if you don’t always feel joyful?
[An important caveat: I’m not talking here about people who are truly grieving. I’m not qualified to talk about what it’s like to go through a holiday season after the death of a loved one. So please know that I’m not saying that if you’re grieving this December, then you’re doing something wrong. I do believe the Scriptures below offer joy (and peace and hope, etc.) even in the worst of circumstances, but I also know that the worst of circumstances can make that joy (etc.) hard to feel at times. I’m talking more, in this post, about those of us who often go through the typical activities of the season joylessly, without a clear reason and often without understanding why.]
Consider what your Christmas preparations and celebrations are focused on. We are bombarded from the time Halloween ends until the after-Christmas sales are over with images and commercials and people who try to get our focus off what actually matters.
Think about it: Even something seemingly innocent like Southern Living magazine (which I have a gift subscription to, and which I like) contains an overwhelming array of ways our houses need to be decorated and new foods we should prepare. After looking at some of the pictures of meticulously decorated dinner tables, our centerpiece of jars and lights might look a little pathetic. But: Does God want adorable place cards for everyone who comes to your house – or does He want you to be patient and kind and joyful?
And think about what our culture tells us matters in regards to gifts: More! Bigger! Newer! We’re going to look at how to be a good gift-giver on Friday, and I’ll invite you to consider rethinking what constitutes a “good” gift. I’ll say now that I love gifts. I like getting them. I like giving them. I like picking them out. I like wrapping them. I like opening them. I like watching people open them. I am in no way anti-gifts. It’s just that everything has to be put in its proper place – and gifts are one area that causes a lot of unnecessary stress for people.
Re-focusing our preparations and celebrations on what matters can make a big difference in our joy.
Consider what God says about joy and how we might use His Words of wisdom to feel more joyful:
4 For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
5 How great are your works, O LORD,
how profound your thoughts!
Consider the work of God’s hands. Your husband, children, parents, siblings, friends. They’ve all been crafted by God. The snow, the birds, the Christmas trees. All crafted by God. The lights, the food, the decorations. All crafted by God. Whatever parts of Christmas we find joy in can help us find joy in God – because He created everything that brings us joy!
23 A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word!
We usually think of our words as a way to bring joy (or harm) to others. In this verse, though, we’re told that words affect the speaker, too. How might you use your words to lift someone else up AND increase your own joy? Who in your life could use a timely word?
16 When your words came, I ate them;
they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
O LORD God Almighty.
Here we’re told that joy comes from eating the words of God. If you haven’t regularly been reading (and digesting) God’s Word, please start. I know it may not seem like it at first, but God’s Word is an amazing and never-ending source of joy.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
God’s commands give joy to our hearts. Which command might He be asking you to pay more attention to?
1 Peter 1:8-9:
8 Though you have not seen [Jesus], you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
We are filled with joy as we love and believe in Jesus. As we receive the salvation of our souls, we are filled with joy. When was the last time you spent some time thinking about what an amazing gift salvation is? It is the best and most important gift of the season. Have you shown others how grateful you are for this gift? Have you shown God?
3 John 1:3-4
3 It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
John is not speaking primarily of biological children here. He’s talking about people in his spiritual heritage. He finds joy in seeing others (especially those whom he’s influenced) live out their faith. Consider who in your life has faith that brings you joy.
Psalm 16:11 (and Acts 2:28):
11 You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Note that these are not necessarily temporal pleasures. These are eternal pleasures. They are far better, but they may not look like we expect them to. When looking for joy, remember to focus on the eternal. How has God brought you closer to Himself in a way that prepares you to spend eternity with Him? How has He helped you work on becoming holy, as He is holy?
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Jesus came to give us an abundant life. If we aren’t living that life, then we’ve allowed something/someone else to steal part of that life from us. What better time to allow God to take it back than during the celebration of His arrival!
John 4:10, 13-14:
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” . . .
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinking this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give Him will never thirst. Indeed, that water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
If you don’t feel joyful, ask God to fill you. (Remember, joy is a fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23.)
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Joy (and peace) come from trusting in God. Is there something you’re not trusting Him with? Maybe some part of your holiday preparations or plans? What worries have you not let go of? I love this verse because we’re told that so many good things come from trusting in God: joy, peace, hope. I pray all these things for you for Christmas.
Ultimately, resting in and focusing on God is what restores our joy. How can God be a more present part of your Christmas preparations and celebrations? Please share your ideas in the comment section below!
Previous Christmas Post: (becoming) excited for the season
Next Christmas post (on Friday): (becoming) a good gift-giver
To read the fully submitted series, click here: (becoming) fully submitted
To read the wife series, click here:(becoming) a godly wife