December 24: Joy to the World
Today, in our final devotional, we look at the second part of the medley on track 8 of our new Advent/Christmas album. It’s another traditional Christmas song from one of the greatest hymn writers …
Let every heart prepare Him room and heav’n and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing, and heav’n, and heav’n, and nature sing
No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse is found
He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love
And wonders of His love, and wonders, wonders of His love
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Devotional: Devon Keith
My grandfather, Papaw, suffered from Tuberculosis in his 20s, lost 1¼ of his lungs, and for most of his life was attached to an oxygen tank. His life forever had unseen limitations. Papaw had this recurring dream where he was playing baseball and would have the hit of his life. He would start rounding the bases, but as he approached third base he would be thrown onto his back. He ran out of oxygen tubing. He could never make it to home.
An apt picture of this year for many of us. We were going strong, but then we were thrown onto our back. What. A. Year. The biblical image for this kind of season is wilderness: wandering, temptation, loneliness, discomfort, monotony, and the like. Israel grumbled and murmured in the wilderness.
We’ve been journeying through wilderness and dry land. Isaiah 35 says, “the wilderness and the dry land shall be glad” … I’m sorry, what? It’s hard to picture gladness when everything around me feels so out of control, limited, and full of sorrow. I have found the word “joy” can even be triggering right now.
Reflecting on the lyrics of “Joy to the World” changed my perspective. The line that struck me is, “Let earth receive her King / Let every heart prepare him room.” Joy is something we have to make room to receive. It’s dependent on an inward posture of remembering God’s never-changing love for us.
The King came and entered into the wilderness for us, literally and figuratively. He took the curse of sin upon himself so that he could “make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.” The King will come again “to rule with truth and grace” and “no more let sins and sorrows grow.”
We don’t always feel joy in this wilderness journey, but we can always make room for the One who makes our hearts glad. Even in chaos and sorrow, I can acknowledge and anticipate “the glories of his righteousness” and the “wonders of his love.”
Since my Papaw passed away, I now have recurring dreams of him playing baseball. He goes up to bat, has the hit of life, and rounds third base to make it home. A home run! “Let heaven and nature sing!” He is no longer limited by his ailments and the brokenness of the world. God’s blessing has gone out as far as the curse is found. This dream has become an image that roots me in the reality and joy of Christ’s coming and the hope of his coming again.
My challenge for you is to meditate on the following:
- Where is it difficult for you to find joy right now?
- How can you make room in your heart for the joy that Christ brings?
- Take time to imagine what it will be like when sorrows and sighing cease. Make it personal.
Coloring Sheet: Everett Reyes
Members in our church have created coloring pages, which are designed for all ages and artistic ability, as a way to help you further engage with the lyrics and music. We invite you to slow down and meditate on the beauty and depth of this Advent season.Download PDF