Forest Lake Talks

December 10 Advent Devotional

December 10, 2020

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

As I sit here thinking and writing about Joy, nine months into a pandemic that has forced me to limit many of the things that bring Joy to my life, I am forced to look beyond what I can see, touch, and feel. Especially during the holidays, when I am usually looking forward to family get togethers and gift exchanges, and I know they will not happen in the same way this year. I know Joy is different from happiness and I have found a great deal of Joy in these last months, but it is so easy to get bogged down in the negative when we are bombarded by hate and discord 24/7. This passage from Philippians has always brought me comfort. When rebuilding after the flood, I wrote these words on many of the studs in our house, and I have found myself turning to this passage many times since March. I am also grateful to have read about others’ journeys in finding true Joy.

C.S. Lewis, one of my all-time favorites, describes Joy in his book Surprised by Joy. He says, “All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still ‘about to be’.” And in their recent book, Book of Joy, Archbishop Desmond Tutu describes it in these terms. “We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy.” And later, “Our greatest joy is when we seek to do good for others.”

What strikes me most is that in order to experience true, lasting Joy, we must face times of struggle and pain, and we must look outside of ourselves and “do unto others”. All of these descriptions point back to the promise made by God, thousands of years ago, and to the promise of a babe to be born, in a manger, in Bethlehem. We don’t need to search any further than to the One who was born to take on all of our sins and give us eternal life. I can think of nothing more Joyful than that. So as Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, I say it again, Rejoice!” It is my hope and prayer that each of you find the Joy that God so wants for us this and every season.

Heavenly Father, as we wait for the arrival of Your Son, Jesus, may we find Joy in the promise you made to us long ago. May we also find Joy in looking outside of ourselves and doing for others. Be with us in the coming days and may we feel your loving arms around us always. In Your Son’s Holy name, Amen.

Submitted by: Anne Fowler

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