Welcome to 2017! Hope your break has been a refreshing one. Let’s start the year right with what God has promised this year.
“Lord, what’s the theme of 2017?”
As I wrote letters to different friends, I wished one of them a year of abundant joy. The Lord prompted in my heart, “that’s the theme of 2017”. Unsurprisingly, a fitting song would be ‘Joy’ by Planetshakers, and the theme verse would be Nehemiah 8:10b:
“And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
A quick disclaimer for long-time daily verse recipients is that the themes in past years STILL APPLY. 2017 is still a year of perfect timing (2014), a year of overcoming power (2015) and a year of new beginnings (2016). Abundant joy is added to the list this year.
We analyse two words: ‘abundant’ and ‘joy’. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23), and is defined as being cheerful. Joy thus refers to a cheerful heart. In John 10:10, Jesus said that He gives life more ‘abundantly’, reworded—exceedingly. 2017, therefore can be rephrased as the year of an exceedingly cheerful heart.
In terms of emotion, joy and happiness are synonymous—a happy feeling or sensation. However, their nuance lie in their sources. Happiness arises from events and go away otherwise. Joy arises from the Spirit (Gal 5:23) and remains regardless of circumstance. Happiness is self-created and self-sought. Joy comes from the Lord. Optimism can’t go all the way, but the joy of the Lord gives us strength to face any situation, producing happiness and even thankfulness for His goodness amidst depressing times. Society’s definition of joy is temporal and self-sustaining; Jesus sustains fullness of joy regardless of situation all the time.
For many, this year seems scary. Yet, for us whose hope is in the Lord, may we find abundant, unceasing joy in and out of trouble, because it is not our joy, but the Lord’s. In grief, His joy stirs faith for us to worship. In celebration, His joy keeps us humble. The world gives happiness, at least apparently. God gives His joy, good happiness that points us to away from self and to Christ, building us up and not tearing us down.
May 2017 be for you too, as is for me, a year of abundant joy!