The Christmas Season is a time of joy and anticipation, but joy isn’t just for Christmas, according to the Apostle Paul, we are to always have joy. “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4 KJV) That means that no matter what our circumstances, we are to have joy in our hearts. That isn’t always easy, and for some, this time of year isn’t necessarily one of joy, but heartache.
We need to understand that there is a difference between happiness and joy. Christianity.com tells us, “Happiness is merely external, fleeting, and is only achievable on earth. Joy, on the other hand, is internal, selfless, sacrificial, and a spiritual connection with God. We need joy in our lives just as we need the Father and Jesus in our lives.” True joy comes only from God. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He fills our hearts with His joy.
The Bible tells us that we can gain strength from the joy that comes from God. “Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10 NASB) When we have the joy of God in our hearts it strengthens us, helping us to endure hardships. We may not be happy about the circumstances, but we have an assurance that God walks through those times with us, and that stirs up the joy He gives us.
I have several friends who are experiencing the loss of loved ones at Christmas this year, all of who have just recently passed away. They are grieving this year, and yet they have joy because they know they will see their loved ones again in Heaven. They hold on to that hope because Jesus made a way for us to know without a shadow of a doubt that our loved ones who are Born-Again Believers and have gone on before us will be waiting for us, and that brings them joy. “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22 ESV) Jesus was leaving to go back to Heaven and He promised His disciples that they would see Him again. We have that same assurance if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I like the part in the verse that says, “no one will take your joy from you.” That means no one, not even Satan, himself, can take it away! We have everlasting joy because of what Jesus did on the Cross.
How do we keep that joy during difficult times? By focusing on God’s Word, staying in constant communication with Him through prayer, and actively seeking the good in any situation. Crosswalk.com gives 5 ways to be joyful. We should ask the Holy Spirit to renew our minds daily. (Romans12:2) “Mind renewal happens through inspiration from the Holy Spirit, who serves as our counselor, advocate, helper, comforter, and teacher.” (Crosswalk.com) He helps us by developing joy as one of the Fruits of the Spirit. Getting into God’s Word regularly helps us during hard situations. When we memorize Scripture or read the Bible daily, we can recall verses that will help us and give us strength during those times. We should also look for ways to celebrate each day. It could be something as simple as seeing a beautiful sunset. Thank God for His creation and let it bring joy to your heart. The song, “Count Your Blessings” gives us a clue as to what we also can do to keep that joy in our hearts. When we think about all that God has blessed us with, we can rejoice in what He has done in our lives. Finally, we must keep in constant communication with God. (Philippians 4:6) Daily prayer keeps the lines of communication open between us and God. We can pour out our hearts with our deepest pain and know He not only already knows, but He has a solution, and He will comfort us and fill us with joy. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11 KJV) In our walk with the Lord, we can have joy no matter what we are going through. God loves us enough to help us through difficult days and fill us with His joy. So, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”