Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and if my family would allow it, I would play Christmas music all year long! As missionaries, we have learned that Christmas is celebrated a little differently in various cultures, and what brings joy varies greatly from country to country.
We live in South Africa, and since it is in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas comes in the summer. We enjoy hot weather, sunshine, and beautiful flowers in full bloom, and we have to remind ourselves at times that it is actually the Christmas season! If the weather is really nice, many South African families have a ‘braai’ for their Christmas dinner, which is what Americans would call a barbeque. Of course, the meal is followed up with a delicious traditional South African dessert called ‘malva pudding’! Yet no matter where you live or how you celebrate Christmas, you can often hear familiar and traditional Christmas songs playing over radios and store speakers. One of the most often played and well known of these songs is “Joy to the World”.
The idea of anything or anyone bringing real joy to the entire world at one time is an amazing concept! Consider the last time you were in a room with a group of ten friends. Was everyone joyful at once, or did you find at least one or two people bummed out about something? Many people actually grieve during the holiday season over loved ones that they have lost. Others watch happy families around them while they suffer intense loneliness, and struggle with depression at Christmas. With so many people hurting and desperate, the soothing offer of “Joy to the World” is incredibly appealing.
But what is the essence of that Joy? It is the Lord Himself, the King who was born in a manger to bring hope to a broken, grief-stricken world.The joy that Christ alone can offer is not a fleeting one based on present or past circumstances, nor will He ever change His mind and take it away. The roots of this Joy began in the manger with the birth of the Son of God and extended all the way to the cross, where the Son chose to die to pay the penalty for the sin of mankind.
The only way to experience true and eternal joy is to know the Source, Jesus. Make it a point in 2018 to connect to Jesus and to get to know Him better each day. Check out a Bible reading plan, and determine to memorize verses and allow the truth of God’s Word to become a permanent part of your life. Ask a trusted friend to be an accountability partner and challenge each other to grow in your faith. When the joy of Jesus shines through your life, people around you will want to know what makes you so different. Then you will have an opportunity to spread true Joy through sharing your faith with others!