Welcome to Living Contentment Weekly. Here are your three contentment-related thoughts for today. Something for you to: read | do | pray
Contentvent #3: Happiness to the World, the Good has Come
It’s that time of year again when the word “joy” suddenly becomes part of everyday language. After the 26th it will return to its 11-month hibernation for most people, but for Christians, it should not.
One impact of having a culture that cycles through various festive seasons is that it’s easy for the deeper, truer meanings in these seasons to get missed as we hurry on to the next one. Like what will happen with ‘resolution’ in a few weeks at New Year’s, and the attention “Giving Thanks” had just a few weeks ago, the ideas associated with “joy” around Christmas for most people are not actually that helpful. We reduce ‘resolution’ at New Year’s to not at all mean something we are resolute about, most people aren’t actually ‘giving’ thanks to anyone or anything, but merely acknowledging that they have a lot. Now at Christmas time, most people will assume that joy is simply happiness. Which is really too bad.
The Biblical idea of Joy is like the concept of contentment. First, it’s often understood. Second, we long for it. But also – although happiness depends on circumstances, contentment and joy do not.
You can have joy during pain – the same as contentment.
You can have joy when things look bleak – just like contentment.
You can have joy when you’re sad (like contentment).
Joy, like contentment, is so much bigger, so much more powerful, so much more impactful than mere happiness. Emotions like happiness are fleeting. They are our responses to things that happen to us.
When something infuriating happens to us, we get angry. When something disappointing happens, we get sad. When something good happens to us we become happy.
But Joy – true joy – does not come and go like an emotional response. Joy is similar to happiness in some ways – but so different.
However, this is only true when we have true Joy that originates outside of ourselves. Our happiness comes out when something happens to us. Joy is something that we are given. It’s not something we need to try harder to have, but something we merely accept.
We accept it because it is given to us. It is a gift. It has come.
Read the story from the second chapter of Luke in a paraphrase, so it hits you differently. (like The Message)
Sit for a minute and think about all the ‘problems’ present that first Christmas. An unwed teenage girl giving birth in a town far from her family without a proper place to stay – for starters. An oppressed people longing for deliverance from an occupying force. No place to stay, and poor, uneducated boys who tend animals at night were the witnesses.
Yet there was Joy. Joy to the world, for the Lord has finally come. Come to save all people.
Even though all the problems didn’t disappear that night, the final solution to them did come.
Knowing that is what brings true, lasting, JOY.
God with us,
You came so our Joy may be complete,
So we may know true Joy.
You didn’t take away all the pain of this world;
you didn’t make all sin and sickness disappear.
yet you offered us joy.
Help us to believe that.
Help us to receive that.
Give us strength to live in that Joy
Give us the courage to share it with others.
Talk to you next week!