When you consider the difference between joy and happiness, what comes to mind? I suspect the answer depends on many things.

To the seven-year-old beginning reader, the difference may be that one is a really short word and the other is long and much harder to spell.

To a teen of the eighties, one is the centerpiece of a little song Bobby McFerrin wrote. You might want to sing it note for note. Don’t worry. Be happy.

And for those who were raising children in the eighties, joy was sung to all the boys and girls and the fishes in the deep blue sea. Joy to you and me.

And in this Advent season as I reflect on the past two years, there has been much less happiness in my life and seemingly in the world. Personally and globally there has been hardship and anxiety and so much grief.

And in this Advent season as I reflect on the past two years, I know there has been an undeniable and steady undergirding of joy. 

Elizabeth exclaims to Mary upon her first visit that the baby in her womb leaps for joy upon hearing the voice of her Lord’s mother. Mary responds, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” 

This is joy. The presence of our Lord instills joy. Circumstances are irrelevant. Shame, humiliation, sorrow, longing, grief all live side by side a deep and unwavering joy which comes from being near Jesus.

Subscribe to the SMBC Blog