Waiting with Joy
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:41-45
Happiness and joy are not synonymous with one another. There are times when Christians are not happy, but still have joy. Happiness is based upon circumstances. Joy, however, comes from a relationship and the gifts of God.
Upon hearing the greeting from her cousin Mary, John leaps for joy within Elizabeth’s womb at the sound, being in the presence of the Savior. Though Christians may often come to Divine Service with heavy hearts, the presence of our Savior, through Word and Sacraments, gives us joy even though we may not be happy. We rejoice in hearing Absolution pronounced and receiving Christ, the Word made flesh through the Word as it is preached, prayed, and sung, and in receiving the Sacrament. The presence of Jesus gives us joy.
The Scriptures go even farther in encouraging Christians to rejoice in all circumstances, even in the midst of suffering. Hope in Christ enables us to rejoice even when suffering affliction of any kind. The Scriptures teach that weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning. God’s deliverance is certain and that is why the Christian can still rejoice. Our troubles are light and momentary, but we are still God’s beloved children who have joy based upon our relationship with our God and Savior.
That’s why Lutheran Christians sing joyful songs at funerals. Easter hymns (and even Christmas carols) are evidence of the joy we have even when grieving because we grieve with hope…and joy. May God fill you with joy this Advent season on account of your relationship with Him and the gifts He continues to shower upon you as you wait for Christ’s return in glory.
Prayer - Lord, hear our prayers, and lighten the darkness of our hearts by your gracious appearing; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan