These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Joy should be a prevailing characteristic in the life of every Christian, for joy abounds where God’s love is present. When His love fills your heart and rescues you from sin and death, the natural response is joy! Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in having perfect health, being able to financially afford anything we desire, working at your dream job, or any other circumstance. Our source of joy rests in a right understanding of God and our relationship with Him.

It is important to clarify that this joy does not mean that we will never experience hardship or sorrow. Jesus made it clear that following Him would often bring about difficulty. Even as Jesus spoke the words of this passage to His disciples, He was telling them of the difficulty they would face in the world. However, despite this difficulty, Jesus promised that they could have joy in Him.

This joy is deeper than our temporary circumstances. This joy is founded on the peace we experience with God because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In the season of advent, we are given additional natural opportunities to share about this peace and joy with others. We can be comforted that this doesn’t mean having a perfect life. In fact, it may very well mean displaying this peace and joy in situations that are anything but perfect.

• How have you experienced the joy of Christ in times of hardship?

• What practices help you cultivate joy in Christ? How will you pursue these?

• Thank God for the joy that is found in following Christ, no matter your circumstances.