The Gift of Joy by Kristi Nolan, a dear friend who has encountered JOY
If you asked me, Kristi, to describe 2019, JOY is not the word I would use. Disappointment, anxiety, depression, loss – those are the words that would quickly spill from my lips. But 2019 was full of milestones that should cause my lips to smile and my eyes to brim with watery pride: our oldest child graduated from high school; our family took an amazing vacation; we received a special scholarship we’ve been praying about for three years for our middle child; just to name a few.
Thankfully, the gift of God’s Word reminded me that the difficult period we have walked through was meant to produce something much different: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds… James 1:2. I don’t know about you, but trials don’t typically make me feel “joyful”. God’s Word doesn’t just tell us: Have Joy in your trials. He tells us how and why — because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything…..James 1:3-4. There is purpose in our trials, and an unexpected gift: JOY.
Jesus gave us the perfect example of this: …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand on the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2-3.
Jesus knew the cross was going to be painful, so He looked past the coming trial and saw the JOY on the other side.
JOY isn’t just available to us on the other side of difficulties – JOY is a gift of living and walking with Jesus: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23.
In Luke 1 we see a young girl, Mary, already pledged to be married, encountering an angel who brings her what must have been confusing and frightening news. She immediately travels to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who is also unexpectedly with child. When Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary’s response is what we call “Mary’s Magnificat”. It can be found beginning in Luke 1:46: My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… Her spirit, like her cousin Elizabeth’s, was filled with JOY. Mary chose to receive this most unexpected gift with joy.
What unexpected situations have filled your year? Are you choosing JOY in this season? Are you taking time to remember the JOY of your salvation?
If not, I pray you will spend time with Jesus and receive the gift of Joy He brought on a cold night in Bethlehem.