It is that time of year again. Time for laughter, fun, family, singing carols, and hopefully snow! It’s that time when many of us are filled with joy because of the Christmas Season. Or is it? Could that just be a stereotype of the Advent Season? I mean sure, everywhere you go you see Christmas lights and hear Christmas music and you might even say “Merry Christmas” to the cashier after she has finished ringing you out, but does that truly express Christmas joy? What is Christmas joy anyway? Are people even excited about the season or are they more stressed or even lonely at the thought of another holiday?
Truth is, not everyone is excited. That doesn’t make them a Scrooge, but maybe they are just having a hard time finding the true joy of the Christmas season. For some, it is a reminder that Christmas will never be the same because of a lost loved one. For others, maybe something happened that stole their happiness and they are still learning to cope with it.
Being away at college so close to Christmas is hard. I cannot do my usual Christmas shopping with Mom and Grandma, I’m not able to hang out with my sister and brother and watch Christmas movies, and I’m not at my home church where Christmas joy is being spread all the time. I have found myself, like many this year, in a pit that I cannot seem to get out of. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love everything about it and everything that comes with it. That is why I am so confused on why my love and joy for the season has faded.
Let’s think about this for a moment: Is there a difference between happiness and joy? If so, what is it? Happiness is based on “happenings”. When you get a promotion at work you are happy, when your kids do well at school you are happy, when Cousin Bob decides to bring his new girlfriend to a family Christmas party, you are not happy. You see, happiness comes from the things that are happening all around us. Joy, on the other hand, is “contentment that transcends circumstances”. Joy is something that we can have even when times are tough. Joy is something that overpowers happiness. Joy transcends all the bad things that steal our happiness.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Joy To The World”. Why do we sing that simple phrase? We want the world to be full of joy because Advent is about the coming of our Savior! This is the time that our Savior was born! We can take joy in knowing that Jesus has come! And that kind of joy will transcend any problem we are experiencing. Whether it be depression, the reality that Christmas dinner may not be the same this year, or even Cousin Bob bringing his new girlfriend to dinner… joy overpowers all of that.
My friends, I challenge you, and myself, this Advent season. When you feel yourself getting down about something, or maybe Christmas isn’t turning out like you expected and you begin to lose your happiness, remember JOY. Remember the joy that you find in the birth of our Savior. Jesus is the light in our darkness. The candles we light on Advent are a great reminder of that. Jesus is the flame (The Light), and that flame has no shadow (in other words, in Jesus, there is no darkness). Jesus overcomes darkness just like joy overcomes our circumstances.
I encourage you this week to check our Pastor Aaron’s message about Joy during the Advent Season, “Joy Through Obedience” on PAG’s podcast. Pastor Aaron takes a deeper look at the lives of Mary and Joseph and the joy that they receive when their lives are suddenly interrupted and reputations are on the line. You don’t want to miss it!
College Student & Blogger