Joy to the world, I sing. But then I read news articles that seem to prove the exact opposite. Where is the joy in this world? All I see is sadness, destruction, anger, and pain. Cognitively, I know joy isn’t the same as happiness. But I’ve been wrestling lately; what is joy really? What does joy to the world actually look like?
After my miscarriage, I felt so sad and angry; the joy of pregnancy and carrying life was stolen away from me. How could I feel any joy as I mourned so deeply?
Days after the bleeding stopped, I met with a woman and said I was worried I may not have joy if I get pregnant again. She said I might not have joy again until I’m holding a healthy baby in my arms.
And then for weeks I wrestled with that. Would joy only come from a healthy baby? What an exuberant amount of pressure our next baby would have to carry! Is there no joy in the midst of the grieving?
And at the end of a weekend of silly zoo animals and swimming with nieces and nephews, I experienced real joy in the midst of muddy circumstances like never before.
A man Ephron & I have grown to respect was teaching on a text from 1 Peter 1, about deep, mature, genuine faith growing in the midst of hardship and suffering.
I scribbled notes for 45 minutes, and have returned week after week to re-read what I learned. Joy isn’t about my circumstances. It isn’t a fleeting emotion. Joy isn’t optimism or happiness. Rather joy is a disposition. Joy is a settled state of contentment and satisfaction. Joy is rooted so deep within me, pervasive and holistic. Jesus is the center and substance of my joy. The contentment and confidence is in Jesus, regardless of my emotional state. My life is marked by this grounding found in Jesus. The reality of Jesus anchors me in the chaos.
Joy and grief can happen together.
We thought of naming our baby for weeks, but couldn’t agree on a name that seemed to fit. While driving to see my parents, we scrolled again through baby names and stopped on this name:
Dayo – joy arrives
Not in our baby’s life nor death does joy arrive. Not in met expectations. Not in happy emotions. Joy arrived tw0 thousand years ago. In a baby. In knowing and being known, in loving and being loved, in finding and being found. And no grief, hardship, or trial can snatch it away.
I can’t really explain joy. But I’ve experienced it, long before my circumstances have changed. And in this joy, my emotions still fluctuate. Some days I deep, belly laugh. Other days I smear snot as I ugly cry. I am deeply settled though my heart is still sad. Joy and grief are happening together.
That’s kind of what this advent season is about. Two worlds colliding. Happy and sad. Homeless and rich. Busy and calm. Peaceful and confused. Joy to the world, right in the midst of where she is. Smack dab in the middle of the good and the bad, Joy has arrived and is arriving.
Whether or not our desires of expanding our family are met, we have joy. And we rejoice while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy. We look forward to meeting Dayo. We look forward to the day when the wrongs of this world will be made right. And we look forward to Joy arriving again.