We almost missed the birth of Christ because of a dryer vent. We were slotted to leave for my in-laws at 2pm on Christmas Eve. It was after 5pm before we pulled out of the driveway. Our fingers were sliced from cutting aluminum and our spirits were mostly dried up. And the dryer still wasn’t fixed.
What is at stake was our joy. Nehemiah said the joy of the Lord is our strength. And joy is a source of strength. Experiencing joy is like water on dry ground and clean air for the lungs. The impartation of joy can resurrect a dead heart. The problem is joy feels illusive, like something that can blow away in the wind. Just look at the world. The deep brokenness goes far beyond flesh wounds and broken dryers.
But there is good news. Joy is not only a source of strength that can be received, it is an act of strength that can be chosen. In the face of hassle, chaos, darkness and even death, we can defy evil and opt for joy. We can chase after joy even when it makes no sense. And the choice to fight for joy has the power to push back the darkness.
Consider the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas. After spending the night robbing every last present, ornament and stocking from the Whos down in Whoville, he sat perched above the town waiting. He was waiting for the screams and cries of parents and children lamenting over their loss. But his dark plan failed. Instead of crying he heard a different sound drifting up the mountain. It started with a single voice that was soon backfilled by a beautiful choir. The Whos down in Whoville had gathered in a circle to make a joyful song. It was an act war against evil. They had something the Grinch could not take from them. And their joy didn’t just stop the Grinch, it transformed him. For as we all know, the Grinch’s heart grew two sizes on that Christmas day.
I am not suggesting we live in denial about the pain we experience in this world. I am simply suggesting we have vast resources available to us in order to walk through that pain. So if you feel the cold and darkness pressing in, I suggest you go sledding. Build a snowman. Or better yet, circle up with the people you love and sing a song that can cause even the deadest heart to come back to life.
For more on the power of joy, check out podcast EP 3 “Joy is a Weapon” from last year.