Merry Christmas!” we say in the United States. “Joyeux Noel!” exclaim the French. The Brits say, “Happy Christmas!” “Frohe Weihnachten!” echoes throughout Germany. And “Feliz Navidad!” can be heard in many countries. No matter how you say it, when it comes to Christmas the world over, we all share the same idea. Christmas is a time for joy. Feeling joyous in December is downright human. If you’re not happy at Christmas, you may as well be Mr. Scrooge himself.

“What right have you to be dismal?” asks Scrooge’s nephew, chiding his grumpy uncle for unhappiness on Christmas Eve. “What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”

Scrooge responds that by such reasoning, his nephew has no right to be merry, given that he’s “poor enough.”

We all know riches don’t buy happiness. Joy cannot be bought, forced, or dictated by the norms of society. Joy—that “feeling of great pleasure and happiness,” as the Oxford English dictionary defines it—is not a commodity. It is, some say, A CHOICE.

A few days ago, I saw a post on social media written after a particularly early and deep snowfall. While people were either applauding or complaining about the white stuff covering their town, someone philosophized, “If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.”

I absolutely agree that a person will be happier in life if they just accept the things they can’t control, like the weather, and look for the good to be found therein. I also believe that is sometimes much easier said than done.

Recently, I read another definition of joy: “gladness not based on circumstance.” By this definition, joy is attainable even in the worst of situations. That one is a little tough to swallow. People have shed rivers of tears trying to find joy in their particular situations.

I think the true meaning of joy lies outside either of these definitions and is ultimately found in the presence of the Spirit of the living Lord.

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
That joy, that Holy Spirit, can also be yours. He will empower you to find the “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7) as you face the challenges in your life …. challenges that steal your joy. Great pleasure and happiness, not based on circumstance, can be yours as you allow the Holy Spirit to fill you and grace you with His power.

May the joy of the Christmas season be yours!

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