Doubting Joy

December 12, 2021

Luke 1:25 NIV

“The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

Today's Reading: Luke 1:21-25

Devo Author: John Marquette

Date: December 12, 2021

“…glory given or received of men is short lived, and the glory of the world is ever companioned by sorrow. The glory of the good, however, is in their conscience and not in the lips of men, for the joy of the just is from God and in God, and their gladness is founded on truth” – Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ,[1].

After all these years, it was finally Zechariah’s turn to serve in the Temple. I imagine his emotions were a mix of excitement and fear. Needless to say, he did not expect what was about to happen; and neither did the people waiting for him as he finished his priestly duties. After a long wait, here he comes; and the people knew immediately that something had happened. But what? Unable to speak, a condition that would remain for many months, Zechariah had to revert to communicating via hand signals and motions. Even then, most likely no one ever knew what took place in the Temple between Zechariah and the angel Gabriel.

But we do! We’ve read the book.

God was going to do something big and unanticipated in and through Zechariah and Elizabeth. While even a righteous couple (think “good” or “just”), like these two, could be prone to doubt; yet God still had plans to use them and turn their struggles into joy. Remember, he was mute and she was unable to have children. In a short time, we find her acknowledging her joy because of the Lord’s goodness and bathing in His favor and truth. À Kempis’ words stay true: “…for the joy of the just is from God and in God, and their gladness is founded on truth.”

Looking back, I can recall several times in my life that were challenging, if not straight up disheartening. To be honest, it wasn’t always easy to find joy. sometimes it just wasn’t there. It often took time to let joy be my primary response, especially if the difficult circumstance(s) remained. But true joy is founded solely on the truth of and the promises given by the One who reigns and not on our circumstances. The prophet’s words ring true: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV).

In many ways, 2020 is a year we would all prefer to forget. The happenings in the world and our own country gave rise to uncertainty, despair, broken heartedness, fear, and grief. These emotions were (and still are) so prevalent, making joy seem so far out of reach. But the psalmist reminds us that in God’s presence “…there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11 ESV). 

Joy… it’s within your grasp. Allow this season of Advent to point you towards God’s presence and the joy He provides.

[1] Thomas à Kempis, “The Joy of a Good Conscience,” The Imitation of Christ (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1996), 71.