I Need More…Joy

After hastily opening the wrapped package and making the obligatory thank you’s, it’s easy to turn a thoughtful gift into something ho hum. At Christmas you may find yourself surrounded by piles of wrapping paper with gifts all around, and yet struggling to find joy in it all. Then the little child, a bundle of energy, bounces by your seat in the living room and exclaims, “Oh, my, what a beautiful gift! Is that yours? You must be so happy!” You think to yourself, “Why don’t I have the joy of that little girl?”

At times we have those feelings which cause us to cry out, “I need more joy in my life!” That is so often true at this time of year (before and after the Christmas season) when for one reason or another we find ourselves lacking joy. There are indications everywhere that joy should fill our lives. Decorations go up inside and outside. Christmas music surrounds us, and cards arrive daily. But then the manger scenes are put away and the normal scenes of your life take their place.

Some days the festive joy still fills our hearts as we enjoy the gifts given and received or an extended family stay lasts until the New Year. Yet deep down we know that this joy will not last. If we’re honest, the planning was overwhelming, the schedule fell apart a bit, decorating and taking down decorations got tiresome. There isn’t much joy in not being able to purchase the perfect gift for lack of funds. And you can look forward to extra bills in January too. All of this leads us to shout out, “I need more joy! I need joy that will last!”

Here’s some great news. Christmas brings us joy that does last—the true joy found in Jesus. With a love that we cannot comprehend, our heavenly Father gave his only Son, born to be our Savior. With perfect obedience Jesus lived the life all of us are unable to live. Each and every evil thought, evil word, and evil deed we have done has been picked from us by our heavenly Father and placed on Jesus. On Calvary’s cross, Jesus bowed his head in death declaring, “It is finished.” These words of Jesus bring us true joy. They mean that all is done and Easter’s announcement “He Is Risen!” guarantees that God our Father has accepted Jesus’ life and death as payment in full for all our sins. True joy is the forgiveness of sins that is ours through faith in Jesus.

While we are in the midst of the season when it seems hard to keep joy in our lives, focus on the true Joy Giver. Ponder again the words of the angels to the shepherds, “Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born. He is Christ the Lord.” As the Christmas season wanes and the darker cold days of winter set in, keep visiting the manger bed of the Savior. Let his light shine in your heart and your life this New Year and always. May God the Holy Spirit fill you with a joy that never ends!

Pastor Peter A. Sulzle

Let us all with gladsome voice Praise the God of heaven, Who, to bid our hearts rejoice, His own Son has given.

O Lord Christ, our Savior dear, Bless us and be near us. Grant us now a glad new year. Amen, Jesus, hear us! (CW 64:1,4)