Joy is such a small little word, but it is an amazing word - the dictionary describes it this way: It is an emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; a state of happiness or felicity. Other words to describe joy include delight, gaiety, bliss - the word joy is derived from the Latin word gaudia which is akin to the Greek word to rejoice.
As I ponder the word joy this third week of Advent, it seems that all those definitions fit with the plans that God had when He sent Jesus to earth. The life, death and resurrection of Christ has evoked in believers a sense of well-being; God himself must have experienced great joy when Christ agreed to come and live among mankind and willingly die for the sins of the world because reconciliation was what He had desired for mankind and we have great joy and can rejoice because of the great love that God has shown us in making a way for us to inherit eternal life.
The birth of Christ is cause for rejoicing - it should give us a sense of complete joy.
The Bible is full of joy from the beginning to the end. In the Old Testament the Israelites would often shout for joy, sing with joy and hold joyful celebrations - the angels have been known to shout for joy and bring news of great joy, even the unborn can leap for joy and the trees of the field can sing for joy.
God can fill us with joy, clothe us with joy, anoint us with the oil of joy and crown us with everlasting joy. Joy can be found within a city and entire nations can be joyful.
However, just because we have been joyful doesn't mean that we will always stay joyful - the Bible also warns us that joy can come to an end, it can be replaced with panic, it can wither away.
Is there any hope for us when we lose our joy? Yes, because the Bible also says that joy can be restored - we can bring joy to others and other Christians can be our joy. Joy can also overtake us when we least expect it!
Even trials can produce joy within us: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
My mom used to say that happiness was a state of mind, we could choose to be happy no matter what the circumstances in our lives and I believe that we can choose to be joyful no matter what! The Bible tells us to be joyful always - not just when things are going our way, but 24/7. We have a lot to be joyful about, sometimes we just need a reminder.