“Behold, I bring you good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10)
Not small joy. Not modest joy. But ‘great joy.’ ….the joy Jesus was bringing into the world was like no other kind in history. Once we have it, it cannot be destroyed. Jesus said, ‘No one will take your joy from you.’ (John 16:22).” 
The clock on the nightstand informed me it was 3:22 a.m.
I’d fallen asleep a few hours earlier after praying: God, show me what the “great joy” the angels declared that night of the Savior’s birth should look like for me. I wasn’t feeling “great joy.” Instead, I felt sadness mingled with madness, confused, misunderstood, and I guess, a little sorry for myself.
When I wakened in the middle of that night, I remembered a little song I learned in Sunday School many years earlier.
What a wonderful way to spell JOY.
At three in the morning, the simple lyrics seemed not-so-simple but rather a challenge to think long and hard about the connection between the little acrostic and choosing joy.
JESUS: He came as a babe in humble beginnings to bring joy. Before his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, Jesus assured his friends, including all those who in the future would believe in Him, that the joy pronounced by a band of angels to a group of lowly shepherds, could not be snatched away.
OTHERS: Jesus said, “Love your neighbor…” and then went on to illustrate all humankind, regardless of station in life are my neighbors. Some of those OTHERS will nurture, understand, encourage, support, and love us. Some will malign, misunderstand, criticize, betray and despise us. Jesus also said,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (John 13:34 NKJV)
Honestly, I know practicing these words will bring me ‘great joy,’ but sometimes I don’t feel like ‘practicing!’
YOU: When I’m not feeling joyful and realize self-pity is a waste of valuable time, I find comfort and hope in remembering words of scripture that establish how valuable I am to God, how much God loves me.
During my current season of disquiet and discouragement, I’ve developed a list of certain inspirational thoughts and verses, which I call my “A.M. Affirmations.” Declaring the words aloud in my morning devotional time helps me step into the joy Jesus promised, even when my circumstances are not particularly joyous. I’m working on a second list I’m calling my “P.M. Promises,” which I plan to read before falling asleep.
Recently, while listening to a speaker at our church’s Ceremony of Remembrance, I jotted down some words on the back of an offering envelope. They caution me to speak to my soul. They remind me joy is possible. Because God has given me free will, I have the power to choose joy, despite life’s circumstances.
This Advent season, I’m reminding my soul: Yes, there will be times when my journey will be filled with a variety of wrongs. But, when I consent, God’s rightness will fill all wrongs with the promise of “good news of GREAT JOY…”
May you be strengthened and encouraged by the Joy of Jesus this third week of Advent…
- The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, Daily Readings for Advent, John Piper ↑