Expect Joy… “The Lord Is Near”

Tuesday, November 12

11-12By Dwight Barnhard of Independence, Missouri, USA

See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.

—Isaiah 49:16

Next month we begin our Advent journey in preparation for the coming of the Christ child. I begin my journey early. I find myself expectant of the week that focuses on Joy. We set it apart to remind our souls to expect joy in knowing, “The Lord is near.”

It is human, at least for me, to get happiness and joy confused. Happiness is an emotion that depends on life circumstances. Because human conditions magnify the noise of the world, life’s events don’t always happen the way I would like. When life doesn’t happen according to my plan, discouragement and fear can become the attitude of the day. Happenings influence happiness—and these temporary conditions can change on a whim.

Joy, on the other hand, is a spiritual constant built on lasting principles. If you have joy, it is ever-present and as close as God’s love no matter what life’s happenings bring.

God has placed examples of spiritual joy throughout my life. One example was my grandfather who modeled a spiritual joy amid life’s complexity. He taught me the simple parts of my life, like doing chores and fishing. He also taught me to build deep joy based on faith, hope, trust, grace, and love. Grandpa built his faith on his bedrock belief that God’s grace is always as close as the palms of our hands. He found true joy in trusting God’s plan for his life.

Developing spiritual joy is a soul-building journey. Knowing God’s loving grace and the Spirit of Christ are always with us, we can trust God’s plan for our lives. We can “find joy in all things.” I’m a little early, but for me Advent starts today. It is every day that is full of joy and expectation.

Prayer for Peace
Holy Parent, we thank you for the gift of your Son. He is the reason for our joy. His was not a temporary life, but life everlasting. He is our Living Water, constant and true. We have joy in our expectation of sharing the joy and peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Joy
Prepare room in your heart for the Christ child. Prepare room in your heart for joy. Think of the many ways you might experience joy in the coming Advent season: bells, candles, lights, carols, special food, gift giving, time spent with family and friends, celebrations of the birth of Christ. Reflect on the many ways you can share joy in the Advent season: giving to those in need, making a place for everyone at the table, greeting strangers, helping others, being a presence. Continue your own list. Thank God for the joy you experience and the opportunities to share it throughout the year.

Peace Covenant
Today God, even if unhappiness occurs, I will have faith and expect joy will continue.

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