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Struggling with Joy

The third week of Advent is about joy.

Joy is hard. We use the word joy to mean pleasure and happiness. I am supposed to be filled with joy, but I often feel anxiety, frustration, and depression. In a way, being told that I am supposed to be filled with joy during Advent is annoying. I mean, I can’t even get this peace thing down.

I looked up the word joy . . . not the English word, but the Greek word that is often translated “joy” in the New Testament. That word is chara, which can mean favor or awareness of grace.

I can work with that definition. Using this definition, the joy of advent is a byproduct of the recognition of God’s favor. It is the awareness of God’s grace shown to us in the birth of Jesus, “a[n  awareness of grace] and delight to you, and many will rejoice at his birth” (Luke 1:14).

And so, even in those moments of anxiety and frustration, I can remember the story of Advent, the story of God’s light breaking into the darkness. I can find that joy in the realization that we are not forgotten and that the darkness will one day pass away.

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