“Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). The long wait is over. The Messiah is coming. He is found in the womb of the virgin Mary on the way to Bethlehem. Soon the heavens will erupt in singing, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, and the lame will leap for joy! Joy is an expression of thanks and relief that bubbles up from deep within the soul. True joy cannot be contained—smiling, laughing, clapping, singing and dancing are part of the celebration.
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. They will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
The decorations have gone up, Christmas concerts have begun, shopping intensifies, and the countdown continues. Children can barely contain their excitement. Everywhere people are sharing Christmas greetings. The long dark nights are illuminated with lights that sparkle in the crystal snow. The joy of anticipation is sweet. Our imaginations tap into the best memories of the past, and like faithful sports fans, we hope this will be the best season ever. The sweetest time of the year is when the pressure is over and the festivities begin. But the day after Christmas, something happens to the joy. The family flies off in different directions, the toys and gifts lose their freshness, comparisons with years past begin, and the dreaded “return to work/school” looms. Slowly the lights in the neighborhood go off, and we return to darkness.
Real joy persists in spite of circumstances because it is dependent on the joy-giver, and not on our circumstances. God has come to be with us. He will never leave us. The light will continue to shine no matter how long the dark night. Our attitude is formed by our perspective. Remembering the true gift and resting in His love can ignite joy even when the season is over. Joy to the world the Lord has come. Dance and sing.
” Lord, there is sweetness in anticipating Christmas. At times we can’t contain the joy as we anticipate getting together with friends and family to feast and celebrate. May the light that illuminates the darkness during this season dwell in our hearts. May this continue into the new year as we embrace the joy that Christ can bring. We are redeemed. We are loved. We are forgiven. Hallelujah.” Amen