Why are we so afraid to be joyful? Why do we squelch any joy that we may feel? Because we are fearful of what will happen when we choose to live in happiness and become disappointed or hurt instead.
It’s a delicate balance, right? We can look forward to something and find joy in a circumstance, but we also need to consider the possible outcomes that may happen and what may steal that joy from us. Too many times, however, we are the ones who take our own joy.
When I was India in 2008, we attended a Christmas service. Only a few months after the terrorist attacks, Mumbai was still a city trying to cope with its new scars caused by bombings and shootings. Western visitors were targeted, but many of those who called Mumbai home were involved in the aftermath. As we pulled up to the church, two men were standing outside the door, holding machine guns. They were there to protect everyone celebrating the birth of Christ. Christians were also being targeted during this time, causing our team to have to hide out from fear of being captured and harmed.
As we sat during the church service, I kept on thinking about the men standing outside, the death that this church had already seen after the attacks, and if we would make it home. In my opinion, all good things to think about. To this day, though, I can’t remember what was said during that church service, even though we were celebrating the birth of Jesus. What may happen trumped what God was doing in that place, causing me to miss out on the joy of the moment and the power of believers coming together during a difficult time.
Why do we do this? Is it fear of being disappointed? Is it fear that if we allow ourselves to live in joy, that we will feel like a stupid fool when life sidelines us? If we choose to find joy in a new relationship, the announcement of a pregnancy, or even an uplifting report from a doctor, how do we reconcile the fear of a break-up, losing the baby, or a diagnosis that we aren’t expecting? It’s hard because the world has conditioned us to expect the unexpected and preserve ourselves as best as we can.
In mulling this over, I began to think of everything that the birth of Jesus brought into this world and everything that His death took away.
When Jesus was born, He was the light in the darkness. For believers who were looking for renewed hope and joy, the birth of Jesus, which was prophesied for years beforehand, became the good news that they held on to. When Jesus was born, He brought the Father to earth in a new way and displayed the mercy, healing, kindness, and joy the world so desperately needed.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” -Isaiah 9:6-7
On the day that Jesus was killed, however, He took the pain, suffering, sin, hopelessness, and fear! He placed these things on himself and took them where they belong; away from His children and back to the dominion of hell.
In doing so, fear and joy can no longer coexist, and since Jesus rose from the dead and displayed His power over that of Satan’s, joy overrules fear every single time.
The birth of a baby brought all good things back into this world, and the death of a man allowed all that is not from God to no longer have control over His children.
It is hard to choose joy. It is tough to believe that we are worthy of living in happiness, but it is easier to live in joy and gladness under the protection of God than it is to live in fear. As God’s chosen creation, joy comes naturally to us if we live in a position where we know that we are entirely accepted and loved by God. Jesus didn’t just die on the cross for you and I. He was born into this world for you and me as well.
At the beginning of this blog, I shared how fear trumped any kind of joy I may experience while in India, but fear doesn’t always win. While I can’t say that I put myself into scary situations intentionally, there have been many instances where joy has overcome fear and left me feeling secure and found in Christ.
Speaking in front of people has always been a part of my life, but becoming more involved in sharing within the church is very new for me. While there is fear and nervousness as I am scared of saying the wrong thing, the joy that comes after I share a prophetic word or what God has put on my heart is incredible. It is in those instances where I follow the phrase, “Be brave and show up,” (courtesy of Brene Brown) and let God do the rest!
So, on the toughest days, ask God to reveal the joy that was felt when Jesus was born and reborn. Ask the Holy Spirit to remove all fear and replace it with the perfect joy of God that remains no matter what happens. Yes, life can be tiring and exhausting sometimes. Yes, some things try to steal our joy. But Jesus defeated it all so that we could know joy.
If we know God, we know His joy, and it will never leave us.