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Oh, joy: a sarcastic exclamation of displeasure. [Wictionary]

For a long time, this “Oh, joy” was my feeling towards the month of December, which represents Christmas, family time – holly, jolly happy times.

I turned 36 this year, but between the ages of 8 and 34, our family suffered unimaginable tragedies. Both my brothers died by suicide. There was infidelity, a divorce, paternal rejection, and sibling drug abuse. Then my stepfather, who was a good dad to me in my adult life, unexpectedly passed away.

These circumstances have caused many, many, many Christmas-family-happy-times to not exactly be holly jolly or the ‘joy to my world.’ These traumas, losses and experiences can really put a damper on happy times. They can hang over us like a thick fog, disabling us to see any good. It can even numb us to the Good One.

Story time: Michael and I got married 3 months after my younger brother’s passing, and 2 weeks after Michael’s grandfather’s passing (the date was set – there was no better time than the present and we knew it would be an emotional day, no matter what). That brings us to our first Christmas together. It was the loneliest Christmas either of us have ever experienced. None of our family could face a happy-time Christmas together, because of all the heartache that year. We were young, broke newly-weds who could not even put just a Christmas meal together. We had no idea how to cook Christmas meats, so we opted for a cauliflower curry. It was completely inedible (because it was BC: Before Chilli days) and absolutely made our already gloomy and lonely Christmas way worse.

However, there’s a truth that surpasses my losses and experiences. The truth is, Christmas time is actually all about Jesus. When we sing “Joy to the world,” we get to remember all that Jesus is and the sacrifice He made for us. God the Son came to earth as human, to point us to the Father, and through His gruesome death on the cross, reconciled us to the Father. We get to take our eyes off our circumstances, our losses, our lack, and focus on a Saviour and Lord who’s carried every single hurt, loss, and rejection we could ever experience. Only Jesus can be our joy. He’s even given us His Church for community.

Joy is not just a happy feeling.

Joy is not circumstantial.

Joy is dependent on who Jesus is, rather than who we are or what’s going on in our world.

Joy is a gift of the Spirit.

Chuck Swindoll wrote in Laugh Again: “Joy is a choice.” It’s a matter of attitude that stems from one’s confidence in God – that He is at work, that He is in full control, that He is in the midst of whatever has happened, is happening and will happen.

Either we fix our minds on that and determine to laugh again, or we will wail and whine our way through life. We determine which way we will go.

Hebrews 12:2(NIV): “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” What a crazy idea: for the joy set before Him, He endured. Jesus never lost sight of what was ahead, what He was called to. On the other side of His pain and death, there was something far greater awaiting Him. The goal was obedience to the Father, being seated at the right hand of the Father and us being reconciled to the Father. We get to fix our eyes on Jesus, as He holds the victory over anything we can face on this earth.

Dear friend, I don’t know what kind of painful memories await you this December, or loneliness or lack. I do know Jesus is very much in the business of healing. We can read all about it in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. His speciality is not just physical healing, but restoration of the heart. Restoration of our joy.

Jesus said, in John 16:23-24 (MSG): “This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in My name, according to My will, and He’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!”

Romans 15:13 (NIV) says: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

I would like to challenge us to think differently about Christmas time.

This decision is up to us. Let’s not allow another joyous occasion to be stolen.

We get to choose to let the Son break through the fog of gloom. We can turn our “Oh, joy…” disposition to “Yes, joy!” when we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and join a like-minded community.

We can ask in the name of Jesus, for the Lord to restore our hearts and joy. Imagine our joy being likened to a river overflowing its banks.

Dear friend, God really is faithful. I stand testament to it. (Michael and I have had another 9 Christmases together, and they’ve been joyous and blessed.)

John Piper wrote in The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World: “God created us to enjoy Him because joy is the clearest witness to the worth of what we enjoy. It’s the deepest reverberation in the heart of man of the value of God’s glory.”

With Joy


Women of Reverence welcomes Yolande Vincent our regular contributor.

Yolandé Vincent, married to Michael for 9 years and part of the Eldership team at Venture Church. Work as a hairdresser and make-up artist, Christian counsellor and loves to help people transform into all Jesus has for them. I like chocolate and exercise because balance is key :)

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