The Joy of Christmas Podcast Notes

In order to put joy back into the Christmas season, Lesley found three of the most depressing articles about Christmas ever written.  Nice job Lesley.  The first one has some great facts about Christmas and the other ones let us know that if your day isn’t merry and bright you’re not the only one!

Facts you never knew about Christmas

Christmas can be damaging, how to make it jolly

How Christmas affects your psyche

To try to rally the podcast Jack gave some ideas about how God can bring the joy to the holiday.  Here are his notes.

God promises us joy

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” Luke 2:10

Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. Luke 1:13,14

You will have joy and gladness.  Many will rejoice at his birth.  This birth is going to be a celebration. There will be baby showers and the ladies will play games like guess the girth and everyone will bring presents.  You’ll get  like a hundred onesies like this.

This birth will be celebrated.  Everyone will join you in this.  That is Elizabeth’s birth. 

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. Luke 1:58

Joy is all over this book but there is one place where the word joy is missing.  The manger.

The angel Gabriel (went) to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Those who have experienced real hunger have a greater appreciation for food.  The same is true of joy.  Those who have experienced great heartache are uniquely qualified to experience great joy.

So what does that mean for us.  For one, it’s important to know that your heartache will not be wasted.  That hard time you are going through is molding you and building your character and growing within you compassion.  And the depth of your heartache will mean the ultimate joy will be all that much sweeter

The struggle to work and get in college will mean joy when you finally get there

The heartache of dating and breaking up will mean greater joy when you finally find the right person

The heartache of searching for a good job will mean great celebration when you find one

The heartache of going through pain and suffering will bring great joy when you can use your experience to help someone walking that same path.

Elizabeth experienced great joy.  Overwhelming joy.  Because she had experienced great heartbreak.

Let me read you a quote that puts this perfectly.  You and I were created for joy, an if we miss it, we miss the reason for our existence.  If our joy is honest joy, it must somehow be congruous with human tragedy.  This is the test of joy’s integrity:  is it compatible with pain?  Only the heart that hurts has a right to joy.  Lewis Smedes

Before I leave you let me give you a couple of ways that we can learn this kind of joy

1) Replace the search for happiness with the search for joy

So here’s the difference.  When you are looking to be happy you are looking to change the circumstances of your life so that they make you happy.  We try all these happy fixes.

I’ll go to the movies to make me happy

I’ll get a boyfriend to make me happy

I’ll get a new job to make me happy

I’ll buy a shirt to make me happy

I’ll get a new cell phone to make me happy

I’ll have a beer to make me happy

I’ll post a cool picture on Instagram and if people look at it I’ll be happy

Since happy depends on circumstances to really be happy you have to manipulate the circumstances. 

The problem with that is that there are so many circumstances in your life that have to go well you’re odds of really being happy are small.  All the planets have to align just so.

Here’s how joy is different.  Joy is finding something to be grateful for within your current circumstances. 

Let me tell you something.  Trying to be happy is exhausting.  When you’re trying to be happy you’re always trying to manipulate all the details of your life to work in your favor and all that juggling will wear you out.

Instead learn to look for the good in your current situation.  Look for a way God is working.  Look for a relationship God brings your way.  Look for how God is developing your character.

Find joy in this day

In this difficulty

In this hard time

In this finals week

In this breakup

In this difficult job

2) Let joy point you to where you should be focused

This idea that there is no real joy without real pain is a universal idea.  But even if you get that idea, you can still miss the point.  Let me read you a quote on joy I found last week.  This is by the great historian Michael Jordan.

The game of basketball has been everything to me. My place of refuge, place I’ve always gone where I needed comfort and peace. It’s been the site of intense pain and the most intense feelings of joy and satisfaction. It’s a relationship that has evolved over time, given me the greatest respect and love for the game. Michael Jordan

Even Michael Jordan gets the fact that joy and pain are intertwined.  But let me tell you something about Michael Jordan.  He’s miserable.  Everything I’ve read about Michael Jordan is that he’s still self absorbed and his relationships are a mess and he hates going out in public. I’ve talked to people who’ve met him and interacted with him and they say the same thing.  He’s miserable and a jerk.  Sorry Bulls fans. Here’s why.  He gets the connection of joy and pain, but he has not learned the first purpose of pain.  Pain points us to our deep seated need for Jesus.

The hard times show us we need Jesus.

The difficulties of life point us to the fact that we don’t got this. We can’t do it al on our own. 

Let me point to one of my favorite joy verses.

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. Romans 15:13