Joy to the World – Part 2

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  • Joy to the World – Part 2
  • Continued from last week’s devotional…

    It did not take Mary long to hurry to the home of her cousin Elisabeth (yes, the King James Version has an “s” in that name!), who was herself miraculously pregnant in her old age. Perhaps it was while Mary talked with the older woman that she was enabled to grasp a new aspect of the solemn mystery she bore in her womb. This child was her Savior! (Luke 1:47). She His mother, and He her Redeemer, and she was filled with joy, and sang about it in the beautiful Magnificat, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Savior.” 

    God gives to us a heavenly gift called joy, radically different in quality from any natural joy. John the Baptist, knowing that Jesus was now to be the greater, and he the lesser, was full of joy at hearing the Bridegroom’s voice. When Jesus was about to leave His disciples, He gave them His own joy, in order that their joy might be complete. The apostle Paul, chained in prison, wrote to the Philippians the Epistle of Joy. When the apostle Peter was writing to exiles (“strangers in the world”), he reminded them that although they had had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, these had come so that their faith might be proved genuine and might “result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” ( 1 Pet. 1:7-9). 

    And throughout the millennia Christians who have known deep suffering have found at the same time the gift of joy. Suffering and joy are not mutually exclusive. Little Fanny Crosby, blinded at six weeks because of a doctor’s mistake, wrote when she was only nine, 

    “0 what a happy soul am I, although I cannot see!
     I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.
    How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t!
    To weep and sigh because I’m blind, I cannot and I won’t.” 

    The joy of the Lord was her strength, as it was for Corrie ten Boom, who had survived the indescribable horrors of concentration camp. She personified joy as she “tramped for the Lord” around the world, telling her story. Love and obedience are the secrets of true joy. “Joy,” wrote C.S. Lewis, “is the serious business of heaven.” I love that, and I am sure it must be true, for heaven is peopled with those who want no other business but to love God and to manifest that love, perfectly and continuously, by a glad obedience. Jesus said, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:10-11). Thanksgiving and Christmas then, for us who love God, are not mere “time outs” from work days. They are a celebration of the gift of work itself, days on which we celebrate work by declaring our freedom. In a manner of speaking we announce that on this one day we may rest from our work and, without pressure or guilt, we may be glad. A holiday is a holy day—meant for rejoicing in God. 

    Joy to the world—the Lord is come! May we, at this Christmas time, prepare room in our hearts to receive our King. Perhaps we will want to pray the words of Jeremy Taylor, “Lord, do Thou turn me all into love, and all my love into obedience, and may my obedience be without interruption.” Love equals joy which equals peace.

    **Excerpt originally published in the Nov/Dec 1996 Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter.