Summary: Jesus is our Joy
Advent 2004 December 12, 2004
The Word Made Flesh
The Word “Joy” Made Flesh
What is this thing called Joy?
Joy is a rather illusive thing to define. It’s like happiness, but it is much deeper than happiness, it is like pleasure but it is deeper than pleasure.
C. Davis in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology says this: “A delight in life that runs deeper than pain or pleasure. From a biblical perspective it is not limited by nor tied solely to external circumstances. Joy is a gift from God, and like all of his other inner gifts it can be experienced even in the midst of extremely difficult circumstances.”
It’s a decent definition, but I think that it is missing something. In our desire to categorize and put things in their own tight little boxes, we want to define Joy as if it can exist on its own, completely separated from what we call “externals.” I would say that Joy never exists on its own – it is always connected to something or someone. I think that the Bible will back me up on this.
Some of you know that my daughter Hayley’s middle name is Joy. We gave her that name for a number of different reasons, but the main one is the joy that she gave us when she came. Pam and I had been trying to conceive for over a year, and we weren’t having success, we had been to see doctors, and we were worried that we would remain childless. Pam wanted to buy things to prepare for a child – she really wanted to by the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting, ” or as I call it, “What to Worry about When You’re Expecting!” But I said that we couldn’t buy these things until we were actually expecting – to have them around if we couldn’t have kids would have been too painful. We had negative test after negative test. That summer the test was a false negative, so on that Thursday in early September, when I came home and checked the messages to find the message from the doctor that Pam was very pregnant, I hit the roof in joy. I hoped on my bike and rode down to Bloor to buy “What to Expect…”, some flowers and some really good food to celebrate – I sang praises to God the whole way as I rode. The news brought me such Joy! It was a very short and very difficult pregnancy – Pam was hospitalized a few times, and was on bed rest for much of the rest of the time. Hayley was supposed to arrive on April 6th; she came February 2nd. But she came breathing on her own, and generally healthy for a preemie. As we held this tiny little girl in our arms, there was tones of emotions, but one stood out above the rest – Joy. On that day, and on many days since, Hayley is my Joy.
Joy is that deep emotion that we feel when our hopes are realized.
Jesus is our Joy
The joy that Hayley brings is fleeting – we have our good times and our not so good. The reason that the joy that Jesus brings is not fleeting is that although I might have some bad days, he doesn’t. Jesus is constant.
Joy surrounds the birth of Jesus!
When the pregnant virgin Mary and the pregnant old woman Elizabeth meet, John the Baptist, inside Elizabeth, leaps for joy!
The Angels proclaim to the Shepherds “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people!”
We sing “Joy to the World!” for good reason – Joy itself has come into the world
The feeling of being “in love” is a wonderful feeling – some people get addicted to it, but the feeling of being loved in return is far greater. When we make that soul connection with another person, and we love and are loved, we feel joy. But there is something even greater that the joy that we feel over human love.
We are created to love God and be loved by him. God is always loving us, but the sin in our lives get in the way of us truly knowing and receiving that love. Jesus removes our sin, and removes the barrier that stands between us and God’s love for us.
Our innate desire to know, love and be loved by God is deeper than our desire to find human love, or to give birth to children, so when our hopes for that eternal “soul kiss” are met, the Joy that God gives is even greater than any other joy that we might experience.
The psalmist writes of this Joy in the presence of God’s love when he says: