What brings us joy? For those of us that would answer “friends and family,” there is an almost unbearable sense of grief (the very opposite of joy) when we are separated from our loved ones. For those of us in prison, the Holiday Season is one of the most dreadful times of the year. Knowing that the world is in celebration and you are not with them, compounds the feelings of isolation we all feel naturally. There is no joy in the world.
As human beings, we all feel the need to reach out to others in order to conquer feelings of loneliness. The impulse to make friends is borne of our need to connect with other people. However, the accumulation of friends does not always help us, as loneliness has a way of creeping up on us. Even in a world with a population into the billions, it may seem as though we are all alone. There is no joy in the world.
The scene of the Nativity must have seemed like such a lonely place. The town of Bethlehem was bustling with activity. People were running to and fro, purchasing supplies in the various shops. Family reunions were in full swing as kinsmen were returning for the census. Everyone was happy and making merry. But there was no vacant room in the inn for a young Jewish woman. There was no place of privacy and comfort where she might be delivered of child. There was no joy in the world.
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)
Can you imagine the oppressive sense of isolation the expectant mother felt amid the jostling crowds? She who was told by the angel Gabriel, “…Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:28), and who was to be called “blessed” by “all generations” (Luke 1:48), can now find no place in her own generation; she can find no place amid her own people.
We too may feel like Mary at time. Even surrounded by family and friends, it is possible that we begin to feel out-of-place. Loneliness becomes overwhelming when it seems that there is nowhere to go, no one to turn to. Just like Mary, we can draw comfort in the knowledge that the Lord is with us (Luke 1:28; Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). With Jesus Christ we are never alone.
The Christmas story then is one that fills us with joy because the Lord has come. The Saviour of mankind has finally arrived. This is cause for great celebration and excitement. There is Joy to the World!
But there is a sad note to the Christmas Story. The Lamb of God came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and the world knew Him not (John 1:10). He was rejected by His own people, beaten, and spat upon. He was falsely accused, demeaned, and sold to the enemy by one of His own companions. The night of His birth, He was wrapped in rags and laid in an animal’s feeding trough because the world had no room for Him.
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (John 1:11)
It is sad. Why would God send His only Son to endure such grief and hardship? Because He loved us just that much, that He would take our grief and loneliness upon Himself that we might know Joy.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
There is Joy in the World!
(This devotion was originally posted in December 2010 – a classic)