A Meditation on Joy

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2

During this third week of Advent, we traditionally reflect on joy. It can be a tough Biblical concept for some to embrace: it does not necessarily mean “happy,” and has a wealth of layers to explore.

Spiritual joy is a choice and is closely related to hope and faith.

As Christmas approaches, it’s easy to find the happiness in the message: a baby is born, lots of people come to worship him, and we have a savior. But in a few short months, a sad story will play out with injustice, torture, and death for that same person. Then three days later, our dizzying emotions are up again as we celebrate Jesus being raised from the dead.

Underlying all these emotional,  human, ups and downs . . . is joy. Joy sustains us. Joy gives us a correct lens through which to see the world. Joy puts our minds on spiritual matters.

Mary Knew Joy

In Luke 1: 46-47, while pregnant and visiting Elizabeth, Mary praises the Lord in response to being chosen to bring Jesus into the world: “My soul praises the greatness of the Lord,/ and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”  To “rejoice” is the act of feeling joy.

Mary continues on with her feelings of joy as she expounds the greatness of the Lord’s deeds in bringing a Savior to the world and helping “his servant Israel.” Her joy emanated from the full story of creation and salvation, not from her own circumstances as a young woman.

Very early on in motherhood, Simeon warned Mary of the pain to come: “and a sword will pierce your own soul” (Luke 2:35). Her first few years of being a parent included strangers worshiping her child, her family fleeing for their lives, living in a foreign land, and finally coming home.

And years later, she was at the foot of the cross watching her child be unjustly crucified.

I’m sure Mary experienced happiness from time to time, but undoubtedly, through it all, she rejoiced in the Lord. Mary had joy.

Where is Our Great Joy?

I know December is one of the most stressful times of the year. For the majority of us, it’s a balancing act of everything we usually do plus parties, shopping, dinners, budgeting, decorating, making memories, and maybe even a sniffle or two.

But for many, Christmas brings loss into sharp relief. It’s a season where strained relationships and distances are felted more deeply. We may have to step into a new season of life where family traditions don’t look like they did, or how we want them to.

We may feel sadness and sorrow, but let’s not lose our joy, our hope, our faith. Our story is bigger than this, and our God is bigger than it all.

Suggested Meditation

Here’s a  look at my dialogue with the Holy Spirit while meditating on this passage. This is just a model to get you started. Meditating on scripture is a very personal journey and relationship with God, but you may find my Meditation Guide helpful. Subscribe now to my Newsletter and get immediate access to a Free Printable Library that includes a Meditation Journal Page for this verse.

Consider it — This is a command, not an option. And it’s a choice that I am to make–it’s not a feeling or emotion, but a choice.

a great joy — Not a small joy, a GREAT joy.  I picture myself resting in the Lord and focusing on joy in all my various situations in life.

my brothers and sisters — I am one of the sisters James is addressing. And I can find comfort in the thought that we’ve all been in tough places. We all need this direction and encouragement.

whenever — Not “if” but “when.” I reflect on the absolute nature of trials. I push fear aside and bring forward joy.

you experience various trials — I accept that I will personally go through many different trials. I search myself to see what kind of trial I could dread or fear. What I think would break me. I turn them over to the Lord. I think of my past trials and see if I can find the joy in them.

because you know– I already know this truth, but it’s something so easily lost in the midst of hard seasons. Lord, fortify me. Keep me from forgetting and becoming lost. Help my vigilance.

that the testing of your faith–Worldly trials are a testing of my spiritual faith. Father, keep my eyes on the spiritual matters.

produces endurance — Father, I want endurance. I want to run the long, good race. I don’t want to falter, so help me consider these tests a joy. Teach me more about joy and what your true joy looks like. Help the troubles of earth to grow dim as I rejoice in your light.

Suggested Breath Prayers

For more info on Breath Prayers, visit the article You’re Just a Breath Away From God.

Consider it great joy

Various trials

Testing of your faith

Produces endurance

Additional Support

We are called to meditate on scripture throughout the day, so to help all of us, I post a daily reminder in my Facebook Group. It even includes the weekly scripture for easy reflection.

If you haven’t already signed up for my weekly Newsletter, please do! That way, you’ll never miss the meditation, and you also get my reflections on the past week, unpublished ramblings from my life and usually a link relating to topics we’re discussing (music, videos, other blogs, etc).

Hand lighting the third candle of advent for joy waiting for Christmas