Have you ever thought about the difference between happiness and joy? They may sound similar but they are different. Happiness is fleeting, based on circumstance, and rooted in our feelings. Joy is everlasting, based on truth, and stands on its own regardless of our feelings.
Can you recall the story of the birth of Jesus found in Luke? It provides us with some insight into the difference between happiness and joy.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them. – Luke 2:8-20 (NLT)
In the midst of their fear, the shepherds received good news. They were given information that would not only change their lives but forever alter history itself.
This news brought them joy because it represented the truth, a truth that they were able to experience. They saw Jesus with their own eyes and heard him cry with their own ears. They felt the presence of the Lord in that stable as he lay in the manger.
Fear Becomes Joy
God calls us to help change fear to joy in the lives of foster and adoptive children and their families. We do this by pointing them to the truth that God loves them.
It is life changing when we bring the good news to a child that a family wants the privilege of caring for them. However, joy doesn’t come when the announcement is first made. For our children, this is often scary. Their fear only transitions to joy as God’s love is demonstrated through our consistent presence and actions.
They need to experience being loved in our homes. They need to see it with their own eyes, hear it with their own ears, and feel it in their hearts. In this way, the “radiance of the Lord’s glory” is present despite the circumstances that are forever seeking to define them.
What a wonderful opportunity we have to share the love of Christ with the children we serve. They can learn by the way we treat them that God loves them. They can, perhaps even for the first time, experience the truth of God’s love this year.
Let’s make it a very Merry Christmas in 2018!