The light of joy shines brightest in darkness

The light of joy shines brightest in darkness

Joy is a gift to unwrap. It is the second present from the Holy Spirit evidencing Jesus at work in our lives (Galatians 5:22).

But what if we don’t feel particularly happy? What if burdens weigh heavy and optimism dims?

Caroling is easy if our body’s healthy and our bank account’s full. Not so much when we hurt and have lost loved ones.

What can we do when our fa-la-la meter falls below freezing, but everyone else is jolly?

1 First, be authentic.

Faking giddiness benefits no one. Jesus knew about sorrow. As the time for His arrest approached, he warned the disciples difficulties were coming. “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy,” (John 16:20 NIV). Jesus knew He would be victorious and rescue His loved ones.

Strong’s defines the Greek root for joy as “cheerfulness” and “calm delight.” * These understandings differ from a gleeful giggle. Instead, they represent an outlook of hope and steadfast confidence, even when facing unpleasant occurrences.

2 Be alert how to help others.

When we take our eyes off ourselves and look outward, we find opportunities. Yesterday at the post office waiting in a long line, I saw a frail elderly woman hobbling up to the glass doors. One hand rested on her cane, the other clutched a decorative envelope already stamped. I opened the door for her and was rewarded with her beautiful smile. She tapped, tapped her way slowly to the counter to ensure her holiday card made it to its precious destination. Looking at her physical effort to mail one letter, I saw joy at work.

3 Offer hospitality.

We can beat the blues by making a celebration of simplicity. Friends are visiting in a little while for our weekly Bible study. I pulled hot chocolate and mint tea from the pantry and arranged them with holiday mugs and candy canes. A little sleigh with reindeer and a strand of colorful lights completed the display. The effort only took about three minutes, but I felt joy arise anticipating how my friends might like that small gesture of hospitality.

4 Step outside.

While four walls may close us off inside, nature has a way of making us see a grander scale. Who can contain the sky or color the sunset? Only God. Observing His work with reverence reminds us He is present and all powerful. 

Miracles are God’s messages of love. The births of both John the Baptist and Jesus were His divine gifts. Elizabeth and Mary had their faith rewarded. However, they also faced the tragic deaths of these beloved sons. Elizabeth’s died young due to beheading by an infuriated king. Jesus’ execution satisfied the blood-thirsty crowd.

Did these horrific circumstances mean God had disappeared?

Absolutely not. God had a larger plan to redeem souls for all eternity. Heaven’s reunion is coming.

When darkness threatens our joy, we can repeat this assurance:

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:45 NIV).