One of my favorite Christmas carols is Joy to the World. The coming of Jesus Christ ought to be something that brings joy, but for so many people, that gift of joy goes unopened because they refuse to open it. They simply don’t understand the benefits of what true joy can bring to their lives; they would rather cling to temporal happiness that rises and falls with the moment’s emotions.
I don’t necessarily know why that is. On one hand, I think that temporal happiness is something that we intrinsically understand by being human. I became a Christian at a young age, so I don’t have very many memories before that time, but undoubtedly there were times that I enjoyed as a young child. I know that there were things that made me smile or laugh. I understood what happiness was because I can have a positive reaction to the world around me.
Because we understand that, we are familiar with it, and we do whatever it takes to continue having those types of positive reactions to stimuli. We party every night because parties make us happy. We do whatever it takes to get money because we can buy things that make us happy. Even if we are cutting ethical corners, we do what we have to do because we want that high.
What we don’t seem to realize however is that relying on only temporal happiness is going to be a roller coaster. The good times certainly come, but life is not perfect. There are going to be times when happiness simply is not there, and a just as human emotion of sadness will take its place. Just as we are familiar with happiness, we all are also familiar with sadness. We know that things happen that are beyond our control but still cause us pain, and we react appropriately to them as well.
We are undoubtedly going to try to get back happiness back. From these sad situations, we’re going to do whatever it takes to get back to the place where we want to be. We want to get back to that comfortable place of happiness, but sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we don’t have the ability to get back to the place we were before.
Think about what the angels said when they announced the birth of Jesus Christ to the shepherds in the field.
"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11, NIV).
I want to talk a little bit more about this joy on Friday. What exactly is the joy that Jesus Christ brought to us? How is it different than simply straightforward happiness?