In Isaiah 40:3 we read: “A voice of one who cries: Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord [clear away the obstacles]; make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God!” (AMP)
I love the Amplified version for this verse because we are reminded to clear away the obstacles. We were created for joy, and our heavenly Father made the path to true joy simple in the gift of His son, Jesus, but we make it difficult in seeking out joy in our own way.
Culture tells us joy is circumstantial and easy to attain; all we have to do is get the right stuff, secure the right position, or find the right person. This idea equates joy with a feeling of fleeting happiness. Unfortunately, joy perceived this way only leads to disappointment.
Even as followers of Christ, we are not immune to this worldview of acquiring joy. We may try to fill our need for joy by serving the church or other people. It feels good to do good things – and certainly we should be doing these things – but joy goes far beyond a feeling.
James 1:2 teaches us to, “Count it all joy.” But how do we accomplish this if we are experiencing financial difficulties, or we’re in the middle of a divorce? What if we’ve recently lost a loved one? Counting it ALL joy can seem an insurmountable task, especially at Christmas time.
In one of his many letters to his parishioners John Newton, the author of our beloved hymn, “Amazing Grace,” poses the question, “What is fullness of joy but peace?” He conveys as Christians that our hope is not in our feelings of joy in Christ but on Christ Himself. What does that mean? It means true joy – perfect, peace-giving joy – is only found in the all-sufficiency of Christ. It is in accepting and living in His grace, which reaches far beyond our circumstances and feelings.
May you find and know this perfect peace giving joy this Christmas and always.