Joy is something that we often mistake for happiness. Joy and happiness are actually two different things. While we can be joyful while we are happy, we can also be joyful when we are not.
I know I talk about this a lot, but hey, it's 2020, so It is what is is. But 2020 is a hard year to be happy, and it is even a harder year to be joyful. This year, we have dealt with separation, we have dealt with disease, we have dealt heavily with the brokenness of our governmental institutions and our elections, and it just seems like the hits keep coming. But in all that craziness, life is still happening...both the good parts and the bad parts.
While it is hard to fathom that we could find happiness and joy this year, there is a consistent theme that keeps popping back up for me.
Often, when we come to situation where we dislike something, (some may even go so far as to say "hate"), or maybe even someone, if we are Christian, we know that God calls us to, "not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Often times though, when we come to God in prayer, we think that the best way to pray is for God to fix our situation, or perhaps for God to change the other person. But I have begun to believe in, and see the results of, asking God to change my own heart instead.
The Psalmist writes:
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
There have been times in my life, and even in ministry where I have allowed someone else, or a set of circumstances to "steal my joy." Where I know that I am exactly where God has put me, and I allow another person to have control over my emotions. Instead of asking God to create in me a clean heart, I allow my anger to fester, and I block myself from experiencing the joy that God has for me.
I once heard, and have used this quote in a few sermons, that holding anger against someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It just doesn't work that way.
In this season, one thing that I feel like I want to experience the most is joy. Even though this is still 2020 for another 15 days, I don't want to allow Satan to steal my joy. So, I hope you will pray with me that God create in us clean hearts that we may experience true joy this Advent Season!
Let us pray,
O God, you are always ready to hear our prayers, and for that we are thankful. Father, today, we pray especially for our hearts; not in some selfish way, but in a way that we can experience true joy this Holiday Season. We know there are many external things that cause us grief, but Lord, we hope you will create in us a clean heart that even in the midst of all the brokenness of the world, we may experience TRUE joy.
Thank you for this season of preparation as we wait in anticipation of the birth of the Messiah and as we also wait for his return!
In the STRONG name of Jesus we pray,
Growing up in the United Methodist Church, I have always had a passion for ministry. Now, I have been called to serve the people of Llano at an awesome place called Lutie Watkins Memorial!