Joy. Such a little word that carries the weight of so much expectation.
This week Jake introduced our Advent series, Joy to the World, unpacking what joy is and where it comes from. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to invite you into the personal processing and digesting of the messages from this series, along with some questions for reflection as we prepare ourselves for Christmas.
I’d encourage you to listen to each message to give context to the posts in this series.
As is often the case, this message hit home for me. Jake unpacked our dictionary definition of joy: an emotion evoked by well-being, success, good fortune, or the prospect of possessing what you desire. But what happens if what we desire, or what we want to succeed in, isn’t actually good for us? I’ve noticed a pattern in myself over the last few years that has been an enemy to my joy—always looking ahead for some future definition of success. Someday I’ll have joy because I will have the position I want, or the opportunities I want, or the lifestyle I want. But what happens isn’t surprising at all, when I get that next thing, my heart skips right past joy and on to the next thing. Joy is always one step too far away. I wonder if that’s what David was feeling before his affair with Bathsheba—his military victories and leadership had given him peace and prosperity beyond his wildest dreams, but he was still looking for something, still willing to take what wasn’t his in a desperate grasp for what was missing. That grasping, longing hunger in David’s heart has a name—sin.
Thankfully, I haven’t found myself in that desperate of a joy-hole. But all of us are capable of it. I know in my heart of hearts I can nurse a bottomless hunger for joy but completely miss the true source. All of us feel the stain of sin, no matter how religious or unreligious, how prosperous or poor, how successful or down-on-our-luck. Augustine said it well: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee”. As Jake said, David’s joy didn’t come through riches, desires, or chasing whatever he wanted, it came through a renewed relationship with God. Restoration of joy takes reconciliation, and Advent is all about that reconciliation offered through Jesus. One more quote from Jake: “Sin is a joy killer because it separates you from the joy giver. We’re saved from wrath AND saved to the joy of God”.
Here are a couple of questions I’m wrestling with as I continue to digest the message:
Where do I find my joy unfulfilled or absent? Is it when I think about a certain relationship, expectation, or future?
Those things, people, or circumstances aren’t my problem because they can never actually give me the joy I want! The problem is I’m trying to find joy in the wrong places
How am I investing in my relationship with God today? Even if I don’t “feel it” (Whatever that’s supposed to mean.)
Have I read my Bible? Have I prayed and listened? Have I given? More than that, have I repented of whatever sin I’m aware of?
Who are the people who are affected by my pursuit of joy, especially when I’m looking in the wrong places?
Who am I inviting into my disassifaction? I need to repent of this!
Who am I hurting because they’re not feeding my wrong pursuit of joy?
You may have experienced this over Thanksgiving! Did you give someone the cold shoulder or spend all your time with family talking about stuff that doesn’t lead to joy?
Who can I help point towards true joy in relationship with God? This can be believers or non-Christians!
Thanks for joining us on this Advent blog series as we look for true joy in reconciled relationship with God.