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Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

Some of my favorite Christmas memories have to do with the music that surrounds Christmas. One that has been on this mind this weekend has been Joy to the World.

    1. Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
      Let earth receive her King;
      Let every heart prepare Him room,
      And heav’n and nature sing,
      And heav’n and nature sing,
      And heav’n, and heav’n, and nature sing.
    2. Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
      Let men their songs employ;
      While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
      Repeat the sounding joy,
      Repeat the sounding joy,
      Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.
    3. No more let sins and sorrows grow,
      Nor thorns infest the ground;
      He comes to make His blessings flow
      Far as the curse is found,
      Far as the curse is found,
      Far as, far as, the curse is found.
    4. He rules the world with truth and grace,
      And makes the nations prove
      The glories of His righteousness,
      And wonders of His love,
      And wonders of His love,
      And wonders, wonders, of His love.
         by Isaac Watts (1719)  music by George F. Handel

There hasn’t been a weekend in a long time when I needed to hear these words more! Often at Christmas, we remember the joyful memories of our past Christmases when our children were all home and young; when our parents were living and healthy; when we were young and healthy; when we had a lot to dream about and look forward to.

Sometimes our focus was truly on Christmas and the joy that comes with the coming of Christ to the world to change the effects of the curse and rule the world with truth and grace. But often, we think more about Christmas and the gifts and family and events we are attending.

Can there be joy in a world as dark as ours?

In these days of being bombarded with the evil and darkness of our world, it seems to take more faith to sing this song. How can we sing about joy in such a world? The papers are full of news of prominent men being fired because of their inappropriate sexual behavior both on the job and away from it. Of course, this only reflects the values of our culture that are seen in our TV shows and movies and reflected in the behavior of many adults.

Our joy at the coming of Christ has to be based on faith. It can’t be based on our present circumstances. How many of us are living in varying states of grief and loss? It may be that someone has died. But so often a dream has died as well. Often, it is at Christmas that we become painfully aware of that loss…and it can be crushing.

Do we look around and see what appears to be groups of happy families celebrating together? Then we realize that our own family is struggling. Do we have health issues in our family or group of friends that are painful to watch? How can we experience the joy of Christmas at such times? We may have loved ones serving overseas in the military where it isn’t safe, or serving as missionaries in unsafe places, or in places here in the US that are worrisome to us. No matter what our issue regarding our loved ones, joy seems difficult this season…that is, if our joy depends on our circumstances.

Was Isaac Watts talking about being joyful because we have happy circumstances? Not if you read the words he wrote. Our joy is often based on faith…that even through it doesn’t look like it, GOD IS in control of what is going on.ll His plans are being worked out in His way. However, they rarely work according to our time schedule.

But is that what Isaac Watts was talking about? Was he talking about our joy at this season coming because our lives were running along smoothly? No!  He was talking about being joyful despite the fact that sins and sorrows grow and thorns infest the ground; despite the fact that the curse is found all around us.

The King has come to earth to reign. He will rule with truth and grace. He will show forth the glories of his righteousness and wonders of His love! This is our hope.

This is not a song we can simply sing as a dull routine. It is one we must sing and believe by faith! The Lord has come! He has redeemed us. We need to receive Him into our lives and hearts and homes so He can rule there with truth and grace. It needs to start there!

This was first written 2 years ago.