Monday, December 16, 2013

Pastorgraphs: “Joy to the World”

E-Vangel Newsletter
December 16, 2013
[Pastorgraphs now online at ChristSD.com]

Pastorgraphs: “Joy to the World”

The third great theme of Advent is Joy. “Joy to the World” is one of the favorite Christmas hymns. Yet there seems to be so little real joy for most people at Christmas. Why is that so? How may we understand what Christmas joy is? And most importantly, how may we experience the kind of joy the angel proclaimed?

The angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and proclaimed, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great JOY, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).

It occurred to me that I wrote about happiness just a few weeks ago. That raises the intriguing question of how joy and happiness are alike and how are they different?

Seven Differences of Joy and Happiness

1.   Happiness is more temporary and is easily shattered by circumstances, such as feelings or events. Joy is more permanent and abiding, and is able to withstand the changes of circumstances.

2.   Happiness is usually based upon emotions and external circumstances, whereas joy is based upon the inner state of being of your will and your soul.

3.   Happiness is expressed through emotions. Joy is tied to inner peace and contentment.

4.   Happiness is linked to hope. Joy is linked to peace.

5.   Happiness is the result of good fortune, which comes and goes. Joy is a gift from God, and is one of the “Fruits of the Spirit”. (Galatians 5:22)

6.   Happiness comes from self-focus. Joy emerges from within for the well-being of yourself and others.

7.   Joy overcomes fear and despair. Happiness overcomes sadness.

It is a mistake to think Christians are to be happy all the time. Jesus certainly was not happy when he drove the money changers from the temple, when his disciples betrayed him, and especially as he hung upon the cross, questioning the Father for forsaking him. However, the Judeo-Christian scriptures teach that we can live in joy, even when the circumstances of life shake us to our core.

The best example of this was Job. He was a good and righteous man. He loved God and God blessed Job with a wonderful family, good health and a comfortable lifestyle. But when Satan questioned God about Job’s relationship being based on his good fortune, God allowed Satan to remove all Job’s blessings (his family, health and possessions). It is not a pretty tale, but in the midst of his suffering, Job steadfastly held onto his trust in God. “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.” (Job 13:15). The sad epic has a good ending as Job’s health, wealth and family are restored. He lives another 140 years and sees his grandchildren through four generations. We might say Job lost his happiness, but his “joy” sustained him.

Rejoice is a word that doesn’t seem to be in our vocabulary anymore. Joy is rejoicing (Re-JOY-ing). Paul wrote from prison, “Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again I say REJOICE!” (Philippians 4:4). You see, joy is not about getting rid of problems. It is learning how to get rid of the fear that robs us of happiness and joy.

The Greek word for happiness is makarios which carries a meaning of one whose worldly success  means he or she has few cares. The trap is that financial success bring a whole new set of cares and concerns, making happiness even more elusive.

The Greek word for joy is chairo which means  the "good mood of the soul." You find chairo only by trusting in God, as Job did, whatever the circumstances of life may be.  

Hear once more what the angel said, “FEAR NOT, for I bring you good tidings of GREAT JOY.” Remember the Reason for the Joy of the Season: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

We can still, more than 2000 years later, REJOICE (RE-JOY) that our Lord has come. Glad tidings for all mankind, indeed.

Devotedly yours, Bill Jenkins

From the Quote Garden:
“Happiness is a wish.
Joy is a practice.
Happiness can be surface.
Joy runs deep.
Appreciate happiness.
Live joy.”
~
Cathy Cassani Adams, The Self-Aware Parent ~

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