The Bright Side: Joy to the wonders

Published 11:42 am Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The young women will dance for joy, and the men – old and young – will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.” Jeremiah 31:13

Let’s talk about joy. The words “joy,” “rejoice” or “joyful” appear in the English Standard Version of the Bible a whopping 430 times. That’s about 420 times more than the word “happy” or “happiness.” Joy is described to us as lasting and satisfying to our hearts. When we rejoice, or jump for joy, our being bursts with enthusiasm and jubilation. We feel such emotional delight that our physical bodies react in tandem. Joy is not something to take for granted, and if we know how to seek it out, we can experience it every day.

Joy is essentially a gift. It is divine rather than worldly, everlasting as opposed to fleeting, and, in my opinion, it is not technically a feeling. Happiness is something we feel; joy is something we get to experience. Let’s take Christmas for example. For little children, the wonder of Santa Claus brings joy, because there is magic in the idea that someone rewards you with gifts for being good, and there is a far-off place where elves and reindeer play, and hot chocolate is as common as water, and candy canes and gingerbread are used to construct homes. The day itself brings happiness in opening presents and playing with new toys, but it’s the wonder of it all that keeps joy in place before and after the day itself.

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We don’t have to be six-years-old in order to feel that joy again. Yes, watching our children open presents brings us delight, but what about everything else? Do we look at purchasing gifts as a chore or an opportunity? Are we basking in the warmth of the sun in mid-December or complaining that the 60-degree days are behind us? Is that phone call to a loved one a burden or is it something worth celebrating? I’ve talked about perspective before, and when it comes to joy, it can make or break whether you have the chance to experience it every day or not.

I used to see walking my dog in the morning as just something else I had to do. But a few weeks ago, I decided to take it as my time to talk with God and start my day off on the right foot. Even on gloomy, chilly mornings, I still find peace in the sound of the water within the bay, and in the crinkled leaves under my feet, and in the mockingbird calls. I intentionally look for things to rejoice in, such as my small daily moments of fresh air, reading on the couch at night, grocery shopping for the week and hugging my husband when he comes home from work. I seek joy because it lasts a longer than happiness. Warm water on my hands, hot coffee, multi-colored lights, the sound of the mail truck, or a sweet “Have a good day!” from the cashier before I leave the store always make me smile. I revel in those fleeting moments, and string them together like the lights that surround my Christmas tree. When I compile them all in my head at the end of the day, I realize how lucky I have to have experienced so much joy.

I call God the “Maker of Miracles” and the “Worker of Wonders.” I realize that joy is a characteristic that all God’s people share, something that is found in His presence. And in putting the pieces together, I see now that every time I sought joy, I found God. Yes, there is that direct of a correlation. “Joy to the World” is a song about the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The phrase refers to joy that the birth of Christ brings to the world, as it marks the beginning of humanity’s redemption and God’s promise of eternal life. In the song, it talks about “wonders of His love.” Those wonders, just like the magic of Christmas that little children hold in their hearts, are present in everything the light touches.

Danielle Puleo is a staff writer for The Coastland Times. Reach her at danielle.puleo@thecoastlandtimes.com.

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