“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great JOY which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10)
So often we sing and speak of words we have not taken the time to define or understand. Such words are uttered as sounds rather than expressions of reality and thought. Here is a sampling of such utterances: fear, happiness, love, peace, and many others. But what do we mean by them? What do we mean by singing “JOY to the World, the Lord is Come?” Or “JOYFUL, JOYFUL we adore Thee?”
Since I am a Bible believer, I try to understand biblical terminology from the way words are used in Scripture contextually and grammatically. Allow me to just put together a definition of JOY that will help us understand its usage in God’s Word: “A state of mind which displays gladness and delight in the midst of adverse circumstances, because it flows from a recognition of God’s providence.” Wow, you mean we can have joy in the middle of adverse circumstances? Just check out the 169 occurrences we find in Scripture!
We live in very difficult days and not too many people display JOY or have a joyful heart or spirit. For many, the holidays are a very difficult time, full of “adverse circumstances!” My heart goes out to them, and so do my prayers in their behalf, offered to the God who answers prayer!
And that leads me to a final thought or application: When I was younger, my mom used to say to me “JOY spells Jesus, Others and You!” Amid these trying times we can have JOY – – by placing Jesus first and foremost in our lives (whose incarnation we celebrate). He must have the preeminence and priority! Only He can give us JOY in the middle of our trials and distresses! Then, our focus should shift from ourselves to others. Life is not about us, but about others first! Finally, having done that, we can focus on our relationship to Jesus and others to be joyful not only in special seasons of the year, but throughout our entire lives! That’s a great gift!