Bible Reading: Isaiah 9:3 & 1 John 1:1-4

Not only did Isaiah predict that Galilee would be transformed one day from a place of distress and darkness into a place of deliverance and light, but he also predicted that it would be transformed from a place of sorrow into a place of joy.

The word “happy” comes from the word “happenstance.” It is dependent upon our circumstances. If our circumstances are good, we are happy; if our circumstances are bad, we are sad. Therefore, happiness is something that not only comes and goes, but also ebbs and flows. Sometimes we’re happy and sometimes we’re not. It all depends upon our circumstances at the time.

Unlike happiness, joy has nothing to do with our circumstances. It is wholly dependent upon the Lord. According to the Apostle John, fullness of joy comes from “fellowship…with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1-4). Although joy stems from the certitude of Christ’s deity, it is only realized upon our entering into divine communion. Knowing that Christ is God is one thing; knowing Him personally is something else all together!

Since joy comes from Christ and not from our circumstances, and since Christ, unlike our circumstances, never changes (Hebrews 13:8), we can rejoice all of the time. In Philippians, which is often called Paul’s “Epistle of Joy,” the Apostle Paul admonishes us to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). As proof of the possibility of Paul’s admonition, one need only consider that he penned this “Epistle of Joy” from a prison cell.

In her classic work, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote of the infuriation of the cruel Simon Legree over his inability to lash Uncle Tom’s soul. Though Legree’s whip could lacerate his slave’s back, it could never touch Uncle Tom’s soul. Likewise, this world may rob us of happiness, but it can never take our joy.

“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)