Advent :: Unspeakable Joy
As long as I can remember, I’ve wrestled deeply with depression. Every morning for the past 47 years, I’ve woken up feeling as if there was a 500 pound emotional barbell weighing down my soul. As a teen, I didn’t understand how to deal with the magnitude of my inner struggle. And when personal and family struggles began to pile up, this led to a series of botched suicide attempts over many years. My first inkling that this may not be normal was when I was married. My wife didn’t seem to wake up this same way. Then, as our family grew, I distinctly remember watching my boys wake up in the morning, bound out of bed with a smile and start playing. This was foreign to me.
Deep in the recesses of my soul, there is a longing (almost a pain) that wells up within me for unspeakable, inexpressible JOY. And in this season of Advent, I’m reminded that JOY is embodied in a person: Jesus – born to a poor family in an obscure town, a nobody who was despised by the political and religious powers but who embraced the marginalized and outcast – who considered it JOY to endure the cross to make everything in this cruel, broken world whole again.
“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2:10-11)
And He has given us who believe his Spirit that pours out joy in us, not from ourselves, but from God. And it is this joy that now defines me IN my daily struggle with depression. It is this joy that redefines me and enables me to endure when the pains of life seemingly rise above Pikes Peak. And as we continue to wade more deeply into the rivers of Advent, may streams of living water flow in us by the Spirit and impart a joy that defies our circumstances and calls us to peer into the world to come when Jesus will make all things new.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory…” (1 Peter 1:8)