Don’t let the joy of early December become the depression of early January!
Joy unspeakable joy
An overflowing well
No tongue can tell
Joy unspeakable joy
It rises in my soul
Never lets me go1
The third week of Advent starts now and our theme? Joy! And yet for all the joy we (might) feel, late December and early January are the highpoints in the year for another kind of feeling: depression and the medication accompanying it. Anxiety, sleeplessness, worry…and I don’t mean children on Christmas Eve! It seems we have lost something in our celebration of joy.
Look at the anticipation of joy expected by the prophet Isaiah.
Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf.
The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived. And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it. Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
Isaiah 35:4–10 (New Living Translation)
We can be joyful this third week of Advent as we look back and remember the freedom we have been given by Jesus Christ and as we look forward to His return. But in the meantime, there is joy in our hearts because He goes with us, guiding and protecting us.
So…are you joyful on this third week of Advent? Do you seize the joy that is yours in Christ? What miracles has He performed for you? I can’t look into the eyes of my children and not see miracles. How has He blessed you or how has He brought you joy from others He has blessed? Has He ever filled your spirit? When was the last time you counted your blessings?
O Holy Father in Heaven, forgive us for not being joyful here in the shadow of the ultimate miracle of Christmas: the incarnation. Give us the eyes to see your mercy, miracles, corrective hand, filling of our spirits, and your promises. May we, like Isaiah, praise You joyfully, O Lord of all Joy!
Be joyful on this third week of Advent, my friends. May God bless you with the joy found only in Him this season!
Suggestions for reading and meditation through this week:
- Isaiah 35:1-10
- Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
- Psalm 100
- Zephaniah 3:14-20
- John 1:29-34
- Philippians 4:4-7
- Song: “How Great Our Joy” (Point of Grace has a wonderful version of this hymn)
- Song: “Joy to the World”
- Song: “Good News” (As performed by group “Avalon”)