“The LORD your God in the midst of you is mighty; He will save; He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17(word for word translation from Hebrew)
This year I’m participating in our church’s Christmas choir. It has been wonderful to learn the music and practice with the choir, thereby enjoying a many month preparation for Christmas. One of the elements I love in Christmas music is the element of joy. Joy permeates the songs of Christmas and lifts our spirits as we sing. And why not joy? The birth of any baby tends to elicit a joy response. Even in a new mother who has just endured what is likely the greatest physical pain of her life the appearance of this tiny human being birthed from her body brings a huge rush of joy. How much more the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God become man, bears the power to bring us joy.
As I’ve labored to learn the music for the Christmas program I’ve come to know my fellow choir members better. Even in the months that we’ve worked together I’ve seen several of them suffer grief – the death of a much loved grandparent or nephew, the continuing sorrow associated with a chronic illness, the shock of a new diagnosis in a loved one. I’ve seen and shed tears over these situations and loss in my own life. But under, over and through all of this sad stuff of life is the unalterable truth and reality of joy. I see this joy on the faces of my fellow choir members as together we sing the songs that declare the eternal reality of joy in Jesus.
As we sing and celebrate we simply tap into the abundant joy of the author and creator of life. It is as if focusing on the LORD our God punctures the darkness and allows us to live in and breathe of His overabundant joy. I’ve long held Zephaniah 3:17 in my heart. Zephaniah tells us that God is ‘joying’ and His ‘joying’ is in US! This verse is a verse of continuing action – He joys now and He will joy forever. It speaks to me of the joy of a mother gazing into her newborn’s face and singing lullabies of love over that precious child. It speaks to me of the joy of a Daddy figuratively spiking a football and whirling around in a victory dance as he hands out cigars at the birth of his child saying “Look what I’ve done!”
I also love Hebrews 12:2 because it shows us the ongoing joy of God as we see Jesus enduring the cross for the joy set before Him – our salvation! Take joy fellow sufferer! Our God is mighty to save and He joys over us with singing!
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2