Joy is a central theme of Christmas — yet, as we all experience, real joy often comes with a fight. When things aren’t going our way, disappointment or even tragedy strikes, it forces us to decide: will we choose true joy or discard it as impossible? It depends on our source. Trouble reveals what we really possess inside.
The other morning, I was happily going about my normal day when I received a text. It wasn’t anything huge or tragic, but the news on that simple text stopped me in my tracks. I felt angry tears coming and had to stop myself and ask, Why such an emotional response? Clearly, that disappointment reflected a wrongly placed hope — something that wasn’t wrong for me to desire but that I had blown out of proportion. As a result, it was stealing my joy.
In the fight for joy — and in moments like I described above, it is a fight — I have to remind myself of a few key things:
- What lie am I believing? Often, it’s that something or someone will make me happy or give me fulfillment other than Christ alone. I have to go back and remind myself of the promises: “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly,” “his divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness,” and “in his presence is fullness of joy.
- This disappointment, or loss, or trial is in the hands of a Sovereign God. Resorting to the second causes of “if only” or “what if” distract my focus from what’s most important: the first cause: God himself. In other words, whatever mistakes I have made (which I may need to repent of!) or however others failed, God is sovereign even over those things to work all things for my good.
- God is good. Not only is God sovereign over my circumstances, he is also good. As his child, he has my best in mind. Even when trial veils his purpose, I can have joy in trusting his hand will work all out — both in this life and the one to come.
This Christmas, let’s “choose joy” in a much deeper sense than this world knows. Our joy can be deeply rooted in God himself — his goodness, his sovereignty, his truth.