About the author: Brian and Cynthia are active members at ZPC and have 3 grown children; Zach, Jacob, and Hannah. Additionally, two new children have been added to our fold this year, Dhamar and Sophey. We are deeply thankful for the opportunity to worship and be in relationship with all of the people at ZPC; it is home for us.
About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.
TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: Psalm 126
When I received the request to do this devotional on joy I was pretty far away from joy and thought it might be really good for me to ruminate on it. You see, we have been gifted with two bonus daughters this year….AFTER empty nesting for 3 years. As excited and nervous as we are to be able to pour into these two young women’s lives, it is not without its challenges. We know it is God’s will, which keeps us taking the next step.
As we move into this hectic season we are discovering yet another layer of emotional healing for us to embark on with them. One of the new daughters has such a highly fantasized view of Christmas that there is no way for us to match it, and the other one hates Christmas…think Grinch before his heart grew three sizes.
And then I read Psalm 126.
“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them."
The third verse tells us that the source of this joy is PAST TENSE, they already had received it. For the Israelites joy came in the recounting of all that God had already done for them. Rescue after rescue...provision after provision. But that was only a foreshadowing of the greatest gift ever, the gift of a baby, the gift of redemption in Jesus. For us, ALL OF US, that source of joy has already been given as well. It is immediately available to us.
Chris Tomlin has a version of Joy to the World that includes the lyrics “Unspeakable Joy.” This is the gift of God; unspeakable joy. It is not found in the most festive tree. It is not found in the most expensive present, or the most beautiful church service. Believe it our not, it’s not even found in an argument-free holiday get together with the entire family. No, that joy is found in the person of Jesus. It is found in knowing that no matter what, God sent that baby for us. It is found in unshakeable hope.
It will be incumbent on my wife Cynthia and myself to help Dhamar and Sophey, and all people we encounter, see the source of our joy. We need to let others see that our unshakable hope has begotten unspeakable joy. Then maybe all of our hearts can grow three sizes larger.
Take five minutes. Just. Five. Minutes. To think about all that God has done in your life and especially that Jesus brings us unshakable hope and unspeakable joy, no matter what.
Thank you Lord for this opportunity to ruminate on joy. I ask now that you would help us all to live in that hope rooted in Jesus, that it would become contagious and that all around us would be drawn to the true source of joy they see in us.
And all of Gods people said,