All around them loud, excited screams of riders rose above the roar of the ride. Next to his dad, he was silent but the expression on his face was anything but quiet. Mouth open wide around a huge grin, arms raised with hands high over his head, he was having the time of his life. In those moments, everything was right with him.
As quickly as it had started, the ride screeched to a stop.
Expectant brown eyes looked up at his Daddy. “What are we riding next?”
This third week of advent, the celebration of JOY, brought this memory to mind. It seems that joy can be elusive. We have moments, or pockets or seasons of joy. But it seems that of all the expressions of pleasure or happiness, joy is the one that people seem always in pursuit of.
Perhaps part of the issue is our confusion between happiness and joy. Happiness is a response to getting the thing I want, of well-being or success. Whether for oneself or for others, happiness seems to be the result of good fortune.
Joy is more of a deep sense of satisfaction and contentment, a certain abiding in the present without striving. It’s the result of practicing our faith in God even when our circumstances are not the best. As we remembered last week, we are not hopeless; our Savior came to ensure that we have hope in eternity with him!
As I’ve searched my own heart, I realize that joy can be found when I focus on just a few things. This is far from a four-step process to guarantee joy, but I hope it helps you as you look forward to Christmas.
- Be still, but quiet the negative voices in your head. Spend some time in God’s Word.
- Step away from social media, especially if the holidays are particularly hard time for you. And don’t feel bad about cleaning up your follow list if certain people or sites trigger you!
- Practice gratitude. Keep a journal and write something that brings you joy. It’s a great place to go when you need a reminder.
- Look for someone who might need someone to come alongside them this season. Visit a local nursing home or pet shelter. Joy bubbles up in service to others.
And the rest of the story? When that little boy looked up into his Daddy’s face with that question, a patient voice responded. “Little Buddy, I’m not sure what’s next, but that sure was fun! Let’s talk about what we liked best.”
Today, friend, I’m not sure what’s next. You may be facing some uncertain days, but I pray that joy will come to you as you settle into focusing on the good rides you’ve taken and the people you’ve shared them with.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news
that will cause great joy for all the people.
Wishing for you…JOY,