When we said good-bye to our loved ones, we experienced a grief and sorrow unlike any we had known. At times we felt like we were drowning in it. It felt like we would never be happy again. Indeed, it sometimes felt like being happy, or smiling, or laughing would be a betrayal of our love ones in Heaven, as if we had forgotten them.
But the Scriptures seem to make a distinction between happiness and joy. Happiness seems to be dependent on our circumstances and the things that happen to us. Joy, however, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is a natural quality of our lives when we trust Christ and abide in Him.
In lighting the third Advent candle, we declare by faith that joy is possible on this journey. We choose by faith to believe that there are many things to be joyful for, especially the coming of our Savior to rescue us from sin and sorrow, and that deep joy and deep sadness are not mutually exclusive, nor does sorrow indicate a lack of faith, but rather, a depth of love.
God, fill our hearts with your joy this Advent season. Help us to trust you in our sorrow and not to be hard on ourselves when the joy, and even happiness, bubbles out. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who grows joy in our hearts as we abide in you. Amen.