Probably the most popular Christmas tune on the topic of joy is the familiar carol, “Joy to the World,” with its lyrics:
Joy to the World! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing
Since one of the four themes for this Advent season is joy (along with hope, love, and peace), a practical question that may come to mind is “How can I get joy?”
Joy is defined as “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.” (Dictionary.com) Hopefully, we’ve all felt that emotion at times, but I think we could all agree with the definition that joy is “caused by something” rather than self-produced. I mean, we can’t simply knuckle down and pull out more joy by our boot straps.
The angel foretold the shepherds about that joy at the birth of Christ as we see in Luke 2:10: “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Throughout Scriptures, we know that Jesus is the cause and source for “great joy.”
I’ve always liked practical formulas, recipes, or methodologies that can give me the outcome that I’m trying to achieve. I’m not really a fan of wandering, exploring, or experimenting. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we’re given a wonderful formula for joy: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
When we act upon this verse, we can see a formula to generate joy, or rejoicing always.
1. Give thanks – Studies have shown that when we approach our life with gratitude, our filters through which we view life starts to change. I’ve found that when I start my day by thanking God for 3 things in my life…specific things…my whole day takes on a different flavor.
2. Pray continually – I’ve found that prayer definitely changes things, including me! The more I pray and am dependent upon God for what is going on in my life, the more I see answers to those prayers.
3. Live joyfully – When I’ve employed a 3-2-1 life approach comprised of 3 things I’m grateful for, 2 minutes of prayer, and one intentional act of kindness…expressing my gratitude and dependence on God to others…I generate joy!
Many of us search for God’s will, and in the midst of unemployment or an unfulfilling job, feel like we’re doing God’s will, but experiencing joy can be challenging. I pray that through this Christmas and holiday season, you’ll apply these three simple steps and ask the Holy Spirit to help you gain the joy that Scripture tells us we can have through Christ Jesus…one that causes heaven and nature to sing!
Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.