It’s so much more than just being happy. It’s a feeling that starts deep down in your heart. It rises above common sense and is the secret behind smiles even when circumstances seem to be more suited to tears. Ill winds may blow on the outside but joy lives in the depths of a God-centered soul and storms will not affect it. True joy springs from a loving God. It is bigger than the scope of your vision and the width of your wildest dreams. Therefore, the limits of this world cannot affect joy. It is a Godly thing that depends only on faith.
Young Mary sets off to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Both women are dealing with frightening circumstances. Elizabeth had long ago given up on a dream of motherhood. Now she finds herself in an unexpected high- risk pregnancy. Mary is betrothed to Joseph. According to Hebrew customs, she must remain in her father’s house for one year preparing herself for marriage while Joseph builds their house. They consider themselves married once the betrothal begins in all ways except intimacy, so an unexpected pregnancy is a disaster for both families involved. Joy is not a word that I would expect to use to describe either of them. but that is only because I am thinking in earthly terms, not in Godly terms.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
Luke 1: 41-45
When Mary first greets Elizabeth, Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, immediately recognizes who is standing in her doorway. She refers to Mary as the mother of my Lord. She knows the baby that Mary is carrying, is Messiah. Elizabeth’s words to Mary are filled with wonder and joyful excitement.
In this, we catch a glimpse of Advent Joy. An anticipatory joy at the thought of the gift God is holding out to us. As Elizabeth comes to understand who this baby is, she responds to Him in joy and wonder.
When was the last time you read the familiar Christmas story in the first and second chapters in Luke? Can you feel Elizabeth’s excitement as she greets her young cousin. In her response, we see a measure of how we can respond to Him.
During Advent, we light candles for Hope, Peace and this week, Joy. When I read Mary’s words in the passage, I sense her hope and peace despite the situation. In Elizabeth’s words, there is joyfulness. They had been given understanding through the Holy Spirit that they are about to meet Messiah, the Hope of the world, the Prince of Peace and the Joy of salvation. They respond in faith which results in hope, peace and joy.
May you be filled with His joy as you experience the beauty of this Christmas season.