DECEMBER 19: When all your wishes come true
The promise of joy means God cares about human happiness—and, in a way, God wants more happiness for you than you want for yourself.
The promise of here-and-now joy (not just “sweet-hereafter“ joy) also means God can’t grant joy through good happenings. If you have an assumption that good things happen to good people, the chronicles of Scripture will shatter that expectation. Scripture just tells us “life happens to all people“.
Jesus‘ would-be uncle and aunt were Zechariah, a Jewish priest, and his wife Elizabeth. By all accounts, they were “good people“, but didn’t get one “good thing“ every married couple wanted then—a child.
In our day, not being able to have children is a heartbreaking reality a lot of couples must face. Back then, it was also devastating for 2 significant reasons:
You won’t be supported in old age and…
…socially, it was assumed you were a disappointment to God.
Then, we’re told an angel told Zechariah that, even in their old age, God was going to give them a child! They were to call him “John”. And, as if it needs to be said…
“He will be a joy and delight to you…”*
Of course! They’d be thrilled. A big want, a big wish was granted. But this isn’t the joy God wants for everyone.
Americans should be the happiest people on earth. We have greater wealth per capita than most countries. But a 2018 Gallup Poll ranked the US nineteenth in the world on a happiness scale. Proportionate to GDP, Developed countries trail far behind many developing nations. In other words...
The more you have, the less it matters.
Maybe those suffering among us can experience something deeper because they know they need it before you do. They’re not happy with less, they’re just not distracted from more.
The pursuit of joy doesn’t trivialize the suffering or medicate it. It is the only perspective that arms us to be present in the darkness without being crushed.
God’s joy is something placed within reach of every person—whether barren or not. Single or not. Divorced or not. Poor or not. Harmed or not.
Having a baby would make Zechariah and Elizabeth happy. But this baby was bringing something more with him…
“…and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.”*
God doesn’t just have a baby for them. He has a plan for all. He plans to restore a perfect relationship with humanity and this baby, when grown, will get people to notice the One coming to do it.
The world’s stimuli are just grocery samples. The sunrises, sunsets, the symphonies and eggnog. The presents and parties. It is all just whispers. Souls on earth encounter some pleasure and we say, “I don’t want this to stop!” But invariably, it will and it does. Does anything remain?
PRAYER FOR TODAY
“JoyGiver, today I must lament. There is longing I want fulfilled. I sit today with a dark void where I wish some happiness would be. I know you want more for me. I know that, even if that void was somehow filled, I might be happy, but I would still want more. Let me be honest today with how much it hurts to not have something I want. Let me be honest today that You might never give me what I want, that I will resent You for it, but you will still give me more.”
*Luke’s biography of Jesus, chapter 1, verse 14 through 16