By Brother Wade Paschal

Great Joy Devotional

READ Luke 2:9-11

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (ESV).

We received an Amazon brochure the other day detailing what Amazon would offer for Christmas.  Leafing through the brochure triggered memories from my childhood.  As a seven and eight-year-old I looked forward to receiving the latest giant Sears catalogue in the mail.  I would go through and circle all the toys my parents should consider getting me for Christmas.  By the time I finished few toys were left uncircled (mostly those I thought were intended for girls). I couldn’t wait to see which toys ended up under the tree at Christmas.

Christmas always made me happy.  But, by January 1 most of those toys were thrown in the toybox and more or less forgotten. 

You may have heard people distinguish between joy and happiness. Happiness, they say, is the response to good circumstances—when things and life fall out in a good way for you.  Joy, on the other hand, comes from a deeper place.

Here’s my definition of joy:  delighting in the good.  Happiness lives on the surface, the temporary pleasure of good things and good times.  Joy does not depend on circumstances being pleasant, but comes from a concentration and appreciation of what the Hebrews call, “Shalom”—when things are as they should be.

When the angels announced, “Good news of great joy that will be for all people,” they are telling the shepherds that God has things moving in the right direction.  The Savior, Christ the Lord, is being born just down the road in Bethlehem.

And Jesus would bring joy to all people.  He did not promise we would get everything we want, or that circumstances would be pleasant or easy.  Rather, Jesus came to give us life as God intended for us—to help us desire and seek good as God defines it and find delight in being the people in whom God dwells and who want what God wants.

Joy is no list of things circled in a catalogue, but centered in a life that included the cross and an empty tomb. As Christians we find great joy in unlikely times and places because we go where God wants us to go and do what God wants us to do and we delight in the good things of God.

As you light the Advent Candle for this week, pray the following prayer (with friends and family if at all possible)

O God who sought out the shepherds to tell them the good news of the coming of the Christ child, as we light this candle create in us more and more of the desire to go your way and do your will in this world.  We know great joy comes when we are right where you want us to be, following Jesus, the Savior of the World.  Amen