Talk about a time when you felt joyful. Perhaps it was after the birth of a child, and you were filled with a joy that was much deeper than happiness. Or perhaps it was when you were facing a difficult time but you felt the presence of the Lord.
My Story and the Bible Story
I have a friend named Joy (she’s one of the 8-year-olds at church), and her name suits her personality. She always has a smile on her face and a radiant attitude. Is she always happy? She’s not. There are times when she doesn’t get what she wants or things don’t go her way. There are times when she fights with her sisters and times when she has a hard day at school. But through it all, she radiates joy. You can look at her and tell that her smile is much more than happiness. It is the deep contentment of knowing that God loves her and is always with her. It is knowing her Savior and knowing that no matter what happens, God is there. It is happiness that depends not on good things happening in life but on the steady faithfulness of God. We read about joy in today’s passage from Isaiah.
Read Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11.
Can you hear the joy in this passage? God sent Isaiah to preach good news, to heal the heartbroken, and to announce freedom! If you’ve ever been stuck in a car on a road trip for hours on end, you know a small taste of what freedom feels like once you finally reach your destination. The people’s cities had been destroyed and many of them were held captive, but Isaiah had come to remind them all of the good news of the Lord. The cities would be brand new, the people would be free, and the world would know that the people were God’s people and they were blessed.
There are times when hard things happen. There are times when we are sad, hurt, upset, and frustrated. There are even times when we are angry. If we are depending on happiness, we will be disappointed. Happiness goes away. But joy stays. God’s joy is deep within us. It reminds us that God is there and will take what is happening and make something good out of it. God will make all things new. We can be filled with joy because we know that God loves us no matter what and that our God is faithful. He’ll never leave. May you, like my friend Joy, radiate God’s joy. And as we light the candle of Joy, may you think about all the ways God has blessed you and your family.
Discussion and Prayer
1. Ask your children about times when they have felt joyful.
2. Talk about choosing to be joyful no matter what, and how we can learn to be joyful in the hard times when we remember the ways God has blessed us in the past.
3. Talk about ways to share God’s joy with others.
4. Pray, thanking God for always being there. Thank God for freeing us, for rescuing us, and for giving us joy.
Rev. Jessica Asbell is the Minister to Children and Families at First Baptist Roswell, where she has been serving since 2012. She has written the children’s curriculum for Smyth & Helwys’s Annual Bible Study for the books of Daniel; Ezekiel; Luke; Jonah; 1 Corinthians; 1, 2, 3 John and Jude; Colossians; The Story of Israel’s Ancestors: Living toward a Promise; and Where Faith & Family Meet: A Book of Weekly Devotions. She has also written for CBF’s Spark and Form and for Affect in CBF’s fellowship! magazine. Married to Jonathan Oravec, Jessica reads every chance she gets.