Our church recently purchased a subscription to Rightnow Media. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it is like a Netflix subscription service with a wide selection of Bible study videos. This resource has incredible resources for all ages. The last two months, we have been working through Phil Vischer’s study on Philipians with our 1st-5th graders at our church on Sunday nights. You might recognzie Phil as the creator of Veggietales, but if you haven’t checked out the other resources he has created, I encourage you to do so!
I appreciate what Phil has created through this series, because he knows how to communicate challenging concepts to kids in a relatable way. We knew this resource would be a good place to start with our students, because two years ago, when our family worked through Phil’s study on Galatians, this resource helped our son Ethan grasp his need for Jesus and his need to be reconciled to God. We were excited about what truths our children would walk away with after experiencing the Philippians study.
In the Phillipians study, Phil explains that joy is an overarching theme throughout the book, which was originally Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. Phil compares joy to the feeling you get when someone you love hugs you. He contrasts joy with happiness. Phil says the feeling of happiness could be like when you take a bite of your favorite cookie. Happiness is an emotion that we feel for a brief moment, but joy can be an emotion we can experience throughout our lifetimes when we refl ect on the source of our joy. The key truth to experiencing joy is that it only comes from the fruit of the spirit, our true spirit of Christmas, the Holy Spirit.
As I worked through week two of the “Advent: Write the Word” resource from my friend Tracie Gunther Hall, the verses about joy filled my heart with even more hope, building on last week’s Advent focus from last week. I centered my soul on not what brings joy, but who brings joy into our lives: our Lord Jesus. How many times have I tried to create moments of happiness or joy for my family and then miss out on the true joy of Christmas: our Lord Jesus?
Even in the Old Testament, 700 years before Jesus came to Earth that first Christmas, Isaiah prophesied about Jesus’ future coming in Isaiah 51:11 NET:
“Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return; they will enter Zion with a happy shout. Unending joy will crown them, happiness and joy will overwhelm them; grief and suffering will disappear.”
Only the Holy Spirit could crown us with unending joy, overwhelm us with happiness and joy, and cause our grief and suffering to disappear. I’m wondering if you might have a few questions about these possibilities, too:
You might be asking yourself:
- “How is joy that never ends possible? With all of the challenges we face throughout our lifetimes, how can we experience a joy that never fades?”
- Through the verses this week on joy, we can begin to grasp that joy isn’t a feeling to achieve; joy is a way to live with a thankful heart for all the Lord has done, is doing, and will do for us. We experience joy with our eyes gazing at Heaven and glancing at our struggles here on Earth.
- “How can being overwhelmed be a good thing?! I thought ‘being overwhelmed’ was a negative thing?”
- Before studying this verse, I only thought of “being overwhelmed” with a negative connotation, too. However, “overwhelming” means overpowering in effect or strength. When the Holy Spirit works in our lives, His power overwhelms us by His strength to overpower us with happiness and joy even when our circumstances aren’t especially joyful.
- “How can our grief and fears disappear? I don’t know how this is possible.”
- When we shift our perspective to focus Heavenward instead of in the here and now, the Holy Spirit helps us gain perspective that our current grief and sufferings are only for a season; but heaven is forever. The challenges we face now produce patience, which produces endurance. Although we may experience deep sadness on this side of Heaven, the Holy Spirit promises to be with us each step of the way.
Friend, I wonder what area in your life are you asking the Lord to fill you with joy? Which area would you ask Him to give you unending joy, overwhelming happiness and joy, and make your grief and fear disappear? The same God who set His redemption plan in motion to send our Lord Jesus, Immanuel-God with Us, that first Christmas, still works in our daily lives today. Just like the first Christmas a little over 2,000 years ago, if our hearts are ready like the Shepherds and the Wise Men, we can experience the good news and joy for all people. The joy that only comes from our Lord Jesus.
We pray for our friends who are asking for you to overwhelm them with joy this Christmas. Help their grief and fear to disappear. Give them Your joy that never ends. Help us to share about how you are working all throughout our lives with the unique children that You have put into our care.
In Jesus’ name,
2 thoughts on “Unending Joy, Overwhelming Happiness and Joy, and Disappearing Grief and Fear: Is This Even Possible? Blogpost #42”
Overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit’s power-what an awesome perspective in this season when we try to do and be all things for all our people, unfortunately often in our own power. May Jesus and the Holy Spirit overwhelm us with His love and care and help us to remember He has us in the palm of His hand. We can rest in Him and receive His joy.
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Thank you Kallie. I needed that reminder! Praying for your back surgery next week that will relieve you of your pain.
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