Today’s word is one that isn’t used very often today. We might know what it feels like. When the test comes back positive and you’ve been trying to get pregnant for years. You’re exuberant. Your team wins the national championship. You feel triumphant. You complete your final round of chemo and ring the bell. You’re celebrating.
These are jubilant moments.
But can we live that way?
We are much more familiar with the opposite of today’s word: unethusiastic, discouraged, unexcited, and sorrowful.
Jesus saw a lot of the downside of today’s word. The people were oppressed by the Roman government from without, and by the religious leaders from within. One day he looked out at the crowd, and was moved to compassion. I imagine that happened more than once during his ministry.
That day he invited them to learn a new way from him. On another occasion he assured his followers with these words: I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (John 15:11, NIV).
Complete joy? That’s jubilant. That’s what Jesus offers.
I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’m not going to wish you a “happy” New Year. But that’s because I want so much for you.
No, I think I will wish you a Joyous! New Year.
Hair splitting? Perhaps. But I think happiness is an emotion that is determined by the situation or circumstances. While joy is an outlook or perspective that prevails despite the ups and downs of circumstances.
I am basing this line of thinking on James instruction:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4, NIV)
Reading this, I wonder if James is referring back to Jesus’ word and giving us a better picture of what Jesus meant: 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)
And just what was Jesus’ joy? It was his absolute surrender to the will of the Father: “. . . who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross . . .” (Hebrews 12:2). “I delight to do Your will, O my God . . .” (Psalm 40:8).
There is nothing easy about joy. But without it life lacks so much…and it would appear to be incomplete.
So in wishing you a joyous New Year, I am hoping you will have the ability to face the things life holds for you and see God at work and rest in the promise that you will have everything that you need.
Let there be joy!