So after love comes joy. Joy. It’s a strange concept, isn’t it? More than simply ‘happiness.’ More than ‘contentment’ or even ‘delight.’ For me, joy is a deep, soul-centred knowledge. It’s not an emotion: emotions run over the surface of joy. But it’s something deep in your soul.
The joy of the Lord
I don’t know if there’s anything that comes close to the joy of knowing God. Possibly the joy of children, but then part of me knows that it’s also pretty hard, and I know there will be many struggles which are not joy-filled. The joy of God is a real source of energy and hope for me, and of course, love. In my experience, and I haven’t faced a huge tragedy or trauma in my life, is that the joy is there pretty much constantly, despite trials and tribulations. I have to say, I don’t know if this would be true if I was facing something terrible.
This week: Mary
This week, we’re focusing on Mary, and part of her Song in Luke 1. This is the song she sings after the visit from the angel who tells her she is going to have a baby.
Since having children, I am amazed by Mary’s strength. I was terrified of labour and birth, and I was having a baby in a modern hospital with all the technology and expertise available. I was much older, married, and could ring my mum up when it all got too much.
Mary had none of that. She was young, probably only 14. 14! That’s no age, really. She must have lead a pretty sheltered, quiet life. Yet her heart was pure, and she was so obedient. So, to be chosen by God to bear His Son, who had been foretold for so many, many years, must have been mindblowing.
As part of her song, she says,
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.”
That idea of her soul glorifying the Lord is incredibly powerful. “Glorify” is about worship and honour. It’s about that almost indescribable connection between your soul and the Holy Spirit. It’s about putting God first, about everything else, and how that then changes your perspective.
Similarly, Mary says, “My spirit rejoices.” For me, this is true joy. She could be scared, anxious, even angry at God… but instead, she has true, deep joy. She rejoices in God, in who He is, in His truth.
A Godly Perspective
She really sees the big picture here. She could focus on the tiny details (like what her mother is going to say), but instead, she sees it from a Godly perspective. Her Son is going to change the course of history. Her son is the promised one. The messiah. The Son of God.
She says, “All generations will call me blessed.” Well, yes, we do. We recognise her incredibly important role in the story of Christianity.
Perhaps, in the protestant tradition, we skim over Mary a bit. She’s the coveted role in the Nativity for the little girls, but very rarely do we actually consider what she was chosen to do. After 400 years of silence, she was chosen to be the mother of the messiah. Wow.
Her response is joy; her choice is joy and her soul is full of joy.
Yet, she was facing, potentially, a great trauma. An unmarried mother? Whose fiance would want to reject her? A teenage pregnancy? She knew the scriptures, so she may have known that her son would be sacrificed.
Yet in the face of her trauma, there is joy, because she has a Godly perspective.
So today, what’s your perspective? Does your soul glorify the Lord in worship? Do you seek Him this advent season? Is our response full of joy?
Next week, Rachel will be looking at Week 2 of Joy, and Nehemiah 8:10: Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
I’ve got to say, I like the sound of this verse a lot!