Several of my friends choose a word to focus on for the New Year and I chose JOY. Joy is a major theme of Christmas but it isn’t the same as happiness. Events or experiences that
have been hard earned or long awaited for bring a sense of joy. Examples like the birth of a child, good news from a doctor, a college graduation and a wedding day bring a joy to remember. Joy is not fleeting or a superficial and soon forgotten feeling. Oh no, joy is a deep inner emotion that lasts and is remembered.
In the middle of a dark and ordinary night, angels appeared to ordinary shepherds with “good news and tidings of joy for all people”. Frightened at first but then reassured they were told to go into the city and find the newborn Messiah. The shepherds quickly left their flocks and ran to see if this was true or a dream. They found the baby Jesus in a very humble place just as the angels had said and they worshiped him. These humble men were filled with awe and wonder and joy. The long awaited Messiah had come and they shared with everyone what was told to them. They went back to tending their sheep but their lives would never be the same!
There are dozens (maybe thousands) of books, songs and quotes about joy. I found, The Gospel of Joy, Christmas Joy, Quest for Joy, The Chemistry of Joy and the rock group Three Dog Night’s, “Joy to the World”. What is true joy? Russell M. Nelson stated it best, “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives”.
My husband and I chose Psalm 119:24 for our wedding day. During my last year of college I had become very ill requiring surgery and a postponement of our wedding day. This was a very difficult time as you can imagine! We trusted in God for my healing and celebrated April 2nd all the more.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Ps.119:24
“for the joy of the Lord is your strength” Neh 8:10 (ESV)
“ Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice “ Phil 4:4 (ESV)
My father passed away on December 15th but this Christmas I chose joy. He loved God and believed that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of his sin so he could enter heaven for eternity. Not a perfect man by any means but Dad tried to live a life pleasing to God.
I explained to friends that if I say I believe that Jesus died so we can have eternal life with Him, I need to act in faith. I am grieving but my Dad has gone to celebrate Christmas with Jesus. Imagine what an awesome birthday party that must be! We don’t really know what heaven will look like but we are told,
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also John 14:1-3 (ESV)
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalms 116:15 (ESV)
OR When they arrive at the gates of death, God welcomes those who love him. (MSG)
My focus this year will be on JOY. I will try to find joy in good times or bad. I will search for God’s promises instead of focusing on my problems. We do not have a choice in many of the circumstances that come our way but we always have a choice in the way we respond. Joy comes from an inward peace and contentment.
What is your word for the New Year? How will you respond to events in 2019? Will you choose JOY?