Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee


A year ago I posted about my “word for the year”, and the word I chose was Stability. Pandemic aside, 2020 had been a pretty chaotic year for me in my regular work. The week I wrote that blog post I started a new role that has proven to be the most challenging one vocationally in all of my years of serving in my organization. But I’m pleased to report that despite many changes in my work, compared to 2020, this past year has been a moored ship. Stability.

I was contemplating this a little bit over the New Year’s Weekend while returning from a holiday trip to the sub-zero temps of Minnesota. The word that came to me, surprisingly, was Joy. I suppose in part that is because I have a lovely Christmas sign outside our front door:

As I reflected on this in the airport and on my flight, and since then, that one word has stuck with me so far. I don’t have a lot of margin right now, so I have to make quick decisions. I’m sticking with it.

My paperback dictionary defines Joy as, simply,

n. 1. A feeling of great pleasure or happiness. 2. A source of pleasure.

v. To rejoice. takes it a step further by emphasizing, “A feeling of extreme happiness or cheerfulness.” (italics mine).

Joy is an interesting word because it is so closely linked to happiness, cheerfulness, or pleasure. It plays a prominent role in the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22): The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…”. The ESV Study Bible says, “[In importance in the list,] Joy comes in at a close second, for in rejoicing in God’s salvation Christians show that their affections are rightly placed in God’s will and his purpose.”

Another commentary says, “‘Joy’ (chara) is the virtue in the Christian life corresponding to happiness in the secular world. On the surface they seem related. But happiness depends on circumstances, whereas joy does not. In the NT a form of the word ‘joy’ becomes a typical—and the most popular—Christian greeting. Joy is particularly full when what was lost spiritually is found.” [Referencing five separate stories in Luke 15 where Joy is expressed when the lost item, person, or soul, is found.]

How does this relate to my partnership development and TntConnect? In my communications with partners. When I see a Thank You task pop up, that often brings me joy because it indicates something special has happened. But can I return the favour? Can I change how I communicate so that when a partner sees my envelope, it brings them joy, even before opening the envelope? (That is, I want my communications to be sprinkled with joy, so that future communications will elicit joy in them just seeing a letter from me; they will want to open the envelope because they know it will be worth their time.)

In the Bible, joy is not reserved for me. In Esther 8:17, the king’s edict saving the Jews naturally elicited joy among them. In Nehemiah 8:10, the Lord is joyful: “Then he said to them, ‘Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’” And John shows that it can be shared: “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” (2 John 12)

It’s been a rough couple of years out there both from Covid and politics. Conversations are frequently littered with challenges and frustrations. Over the holidays I asked a relative about a trip he had taken, and after a few short highlights, he spent the rest of the conversation detailing all of the things that went wrong… all of which were minor. Ouch. I am becoming more conscious recently of when I go down a non-joyful bunny trail that does not “bring grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

As I am looking at writing newsletters and personal notes this year, it is my goal to ground them in a desire to spread joy. How can I write in such a way as to bring joy to the person reading? And maybe, even in my blog posts too…