Real joy in this generation seems to be missing. Marriages are shattering, accompanied by immeasurable sorrow in children and adults alike. Turmoil and violence in the nation and the world is creating uncertainty in the present and for the future. Diseases seem out of control, bringing great fear to many and, in death, bringing much sorrow. The economy is uncertain. The livelihood of many people appears to be in jeopardy.
But when one reads the New Testament, especially the Gospels, there is such a strong note of joy! When God sent an angel to tell Mary about God's favor on her life, the first word announced to her was, "Rejoice!" (Luke 1:28). Even as an unknown single peasant girl, she could find great joy, for God had chosen her and was going to express His favor toward her. The angel then shared several reasons why she could rejoice:
-- she was a "highly favored one" (Luke 1:28)
-- "the Lord is with you"
-- "blessed are you among women"
-- "do not be afraid, Mary" (Luke 1:30)
-- "you have found favor with God"
-- "the Holy Spirit will come upon you" (Luke 1:35)
-- "the power of the Highest will overshadow you"
What an incredible series of truths for her. In all of this, of course, she would give miraculous birth to the Savior of the world and would call His name Jesus. She would be unique among women.
But review each of the angel's words stated above (apart from having a child). Each of these same statements is true for every believer and give occasion for great rejoicing in each of us!
Joy is to be the mark of every believer, regardless of circumstances. Every believer is "a highly favored one," because God chose them to be his child.
-- the Lord is with each of us. Each believer is blessed above all who are not his children.
-- in whatever happens the Christian is not to be afraid.
-- every Christian has found favor with God.
-- the Holy Spirit has come upon every believer.
-- each believer is overshadowed by the presence and power of the Highest.
Rejoice! in your personal walk with God.
Rejoice! in your family.
Rejoice! with other believers.
Rejoice! in your workplace.
Joy, in our day, is noticed immediately, especially in the workplace. There is so much pain and sorrow and sadness. The presence of real joy is like the sun bursting forth through an overcast sky. Everything begins to seem different. Joy brings hope that things can be better. Joy composes a song in the heart, even in the workplace. Joy brings an anticipated certainty to uncertainty.
Jesus said to His disciples: "... these things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11). What an incredible promise! This promise is to be received and lived before a world that needs to see and experience joy. Mary responded by saying, "... behold, the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to Your Word...." (Luke 1:38).
Would you, today, express this same confidence in what God has promised you, and let joy be real in you before a watching world!