The following essay is from the introduction of Mel Lawrenz’s daily Bible Gateway devotional Christmas Joy, which begins December 1. Sign up here.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'” — Luke 2:10-11
A bit of joy will do. But “great joy”? Is it almost too much to hope for?
Where did all the Christmas joy go? How did things get so complicated? So rushed? So squeezed and cluttered? It doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to step aside, step into a quieter moment, and read angel’s words that came on that night that changed the world.
Real joy is never something that originates from within, it has to come to us from without. Trying to find joy by getting it out of yourself is like believing a river can flow uphill. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why so many have a hard time finding joy at Christmas. Bite into a Christmas cookie, and you might enjoy it. Open a shiny package and you might enjoy what you find inside. But joy itself—in its true and pure form—is so much more than enjoyment. Joy is the startling realization that God really has claimed territory in this world. He’s taken back what belongs to him. And then joy is a thirst that doesn’t want to be quenched; a hunger that knows it will go on and on. It’s a good thing, to never get enough of God.
This Christmas CAN be different.
Mel Lawrenz leads The Brook Network and is the author of Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan).