Joy. even when you don’t feel happy.

Zack and I didn’t observe advent practices when we were growing up. But it is a tradition our family has embraced in recent years.Parts of the season for us are purely fun: like the calendars our boys open each day with a small chocolate inside.

But we also read a passage from the Bible each day. It has become a beautiful way for us to settle ourselves, to focus, and to build excitement and anticipation. A sweet way to enjoy every single day of this holiday season.

The first week we focused on HOPE. Hope can be a beautiful thing. Anticipation for the future. Confident expectation of what is to come.  One verse that I really love when focusing on hope is

“May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

For week two we looked at PEACE. When we asked Daniel what peace feels like, he said family. For me, peace is a sense of calm and certainty, even in the midst of uncertainty.

In the Bible, Isaiah prophesied the peace plan. The rescue plan that would come. He prophesied of a rescue plan that God set in motion from the beginning of time. And this plan that would come in the form of a baby in a barn, who would make all things new.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6

And yesterday we shifted the focus to JOY. Or rather, we added JOY to the mix of of things we are focusing on this season.

We’ve been talking as a family about the difference in happiness and JOY. Happiness is momentary, and often tied to experience or circumstance. It can be affected by outside sources.

But JOY. Joy is more of a decision, or even an action. Joy can be there despite your circumstances.

And I think that a JOY-filled life makes a lot more sense when you are also living with PEACE and HOPE. It’s choosing to HOPE in spite of circumstances, to live with a sense of PEACE when the situation you’re in is anything but peaceful.

In the Christmas story from the Bible, the angel brought good news of great JOY, a message of HOPE and PEACE that transcended circumstances.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good tidings of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the tow of David a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord” Luke 2:10-11

In the midst of this busy Christmas season, may you experience JOY that is far beyond your circumstances.

Do you have any special traditions or practices you enjoy during this season?

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