Advent: Joy

As I sit down to write this blog post about joy, it’s a dark and rainy morning. And honestly, that’s kind of perfect, isn’t it? The moody morning sets the perfect backdrop for making sense of joy—one of those pesky “it’s simple to explain; harder to do” kind of things. Because true joy isn’t so much an emotion that comes naturally when things are bright and shiny, but rather a spiritual practice that holds steady in the storms and the sun.

So how do we practice joy? And is it really possible to have joy even when we’re facing the hardest stuff that life can throw at us? It is possible, but we have to step outside of our current situation and look at the much bigger picture...

We can have joy because God keeps His promises. Through the prophet Isaiah, God promised that He would send a Savior for His people... and then 700 years passed. 700 years! God’s people surely must have wondered if God’s promise to send a Savior was ever going to come true. But it did, and Jesus was born, and He was everything God promised He would be. In fact, that leads to another reason we can have joy…

We can have joy because God sent Jesus. God sent His only Son to the world to bear the brunt of our pain, to endure the suffering of the cross, all so we could be made right with God. When we put our trust in Jesus, we have the promise of heaven—what better cause for joy?! But it gets better…

We can have joy because God is with us. The relationship we have with Jesus as our Savior doesn’t just mean we will live with God one day—it means God is with us in the here and now. Whatever we are walking through now, we are not walking through alone. And even though our stories may not be going the way we wish they were…

We can have joy because this is not the end of the story. God has a plan to make things right in the world, and because God keeps His promises, we can trust that plan will unfold as He said it would. Jesus told His followers that this world would bring them trouble, but trouble isn’t the end of the story: “I have told you these things, so that you can have peace because of me. In this world you will have trouble. But cheer up! I have won the battle over the world.” (John 16:33)

As we observe Advent—the anticipation, the preparation, the excitement—we can find those same themes of hope, peace, joy, and love in our own lives. Our stories are cradled in a much bigger story: God’s story. We reflect on what God did for us, and we find the true reason for joy—cradled in a manger, over 2,000 years ago, but walking with us now.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


So my heart is glad. Joy is on my tongue. My body also will be secure. You will not leave me in the grave. You will not let your faithful one rot away. You always show me the path that leads to life. You will fill me with joy when I am with you. You will give me endless pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:9-11


May the God who gives hope fill you with great joy. May you have perfect peace as you trust in him. May the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with hope. Romans 15:13


Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful. Let everyone know how gentle you are. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to him. Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood. Philippians 4:4-7

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