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Waiting with Joy

Every heart requires joy! Joy is what makes us feel alive. It is eases the pain of living in a fallen world. Joy is a side effect of a personal relationship with Christ. No one talked about joy more than the Apostle Paul. Obviously his joy didn’t come from his circumstances. In fact in the book of Philippians he writes (from his prison in Rome) the reason for his joy and encourages others to be joyful.

When was the last time you belly-laughed? Now that doesn’t happen every day for me. I have a smile on my face from the memory of my last belly-laugh. It was after a long week of ministry to women in India. A wise video-photographer asked our women’s team to talk about what we had experienced. By that time we were all a little giddy from the way God had used us, and we decided to practice a Bollywood dance that we hadn’t had time to use to open up our talk. He was very smart and followed us while we practiced before we could figure out that we didn’t know what we were doing, and whatever we were doing should not be captured on film. Once we figured that out, he started asking us questions about our ministry. The description the women were giving got a little diluted when one woman blurted out—we studied the sinful woman! (It sounded like we were teaching how to be a sinful woman and in the context of the dancing it was just so funny!—maybe you had to be there). Anyway, I haven’t belly-laughed this month, but I hope I will. I hope there will be something that gives me joy like that.

Personally I have never felt more joy that the time I gave birth to my children. (I had relatively short labors.) That is a different kind of joy. I experience joy at each of their accomplishments and secret joy when they have learned from their mistakes. There is the joy of being known intimately by God when he sends a secret reminder of how special I am to him through a well-timed word, a beautiful sunset, or a kindness from a friend. Joy comes in many packages and different sizes. It is vital that we open our hearts to joy.

Jesus experienced joy in what He was promised ahead. If we have absolutely no other reason to feel joy than believing in heaven, then that is enough. Hebrews 12:2 says: “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” There is no greater joy than accepting the love God has for us puny humans and His desire to be one with us in heaven.

In the third week of Advent, we light the pink candle, signifying that the light of Christ is getting closer and closer. It is called the Shepherd’s Candle because the shepherds were transformed from fearful to joyful after witnessing what the angels said was true. They told everyone they knew about the experience in the field of seeing angels and finding there was indeed a Son of David, the Son of God born that night in Bethlehem.

Heaven is filled with joy when any human comes to saving faith in Christ. The angels dance and sing for us to receive the salvation offered to us. May you spread the joy of Christ that He not only came to us in human flesh but that he lived and died and rose again. The greatest joy of heaven is when sinners turn into saints through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Follow your instructions in making the heavens rejoice:

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).


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