Recently, I came across an article written by Pastor Rick Warren. It helps us better understand some aspects of this month’s topic – JOY!

Finding joy is a challenge for me. I’m not naturally an upbeat person; I’m more of a melancholy. When I talk about joy, I’m not doing so from the perspective of a generally peppy person who never has a bad day. In fact, it’s because of my own inability to live with joy that led me to explore why my experiences didn’t line up with Scripture.

My problem was my definition of joy. I thought joy meant feeling good all the time. That’s impossible! Even for those who are naturally upbeat and optimistic, that’s impossible. We must start somewhere more realistic — and close to Scripture.

So, here’s the definition I’ve come up with from studying Scripture: Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.

You’ll find nothing in that definition about happy feelings, because, as we all know, happiness is fleeting and temporary.

We tend to think that life comes in hills and valleys. In reality, it’s much more like train tracks. Every day of your life, wonderful, good things happen that bring pleasure and contentment and beauty to you. At the exact same time, painful things happen to you or those you love that disappoint you, hurt you, and fill you with sorrow. These two tracks — both joy and sorrow — run parallel to each other every single moment of your life. – Rick Warren

The holiday time is a great opportunity to testify to the joy of our salvation. Sometimes just a simple smile connects with others. The hectic pace and internal stresses experienced by many during the holiday season can be overwhelming to some. A warm embrace and friendly smile, even to strangers, can help change their perspective and break the tension of the moment.

What a Smile Creates

It costs nothing, but creates much.
It enriches those who receive it
Without impoverishing those who give it.
It happens in a flash, and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None are so rich that they can get along without it,
And none so poor but are richer for its benefits.
It fosters good will in a business,
It creates happiness in the home,
And is the countersign of friends.
It is rest to the weary,
Daylight to the discouraged,
Sunshine to the sad,
And nature’s best antidote for trouble.

Personal Application:

Think about someone you know right now who is struggling with an ailment; a couple having a difficult time with a son or daughter; a single-parent trying to make ends meet; an un-wed mother anticipating raising a child; or a broken-hearted person who just lost a loved one. What can you do to bring some joy into their lives?

Jim Grassi, D. Min.