There is a strange phenomena around the holidays that not many people talk about. Something most of us probably do not deal with, but then again, maybe we do. Something that stands opposed to this season of light and hope. Something that would rob us of our joy.
Depression. Sadness. Sorrow. I don’t care what you call it. It’s there for all kinds of reasons. That dull ache in your middle.
I feel it too. With Thanksgiving just a heart-beat away, I know that it is followed by a flurry of December birthdays and Christmas shopping and family get-togethers and good food and anticipation of my children’s expectancy and the advent activities we do. And I love December. But there, in the midst of the glowing lights and the happy faces is the realization that my family is broken. That relationships are not what they should be. That loved ones are really struggling in all kinds of areas. And most of all, that I cannot fix it. Oh there is such deep sorrow over the pain of those I love!
I remember this Fall, at the very beginning of our first homeschool year, I went out for a walk. I prayed that God would reveal to me the meaning of my middle name. It seems a funny thing to pray for because my middle name is Joy. But I prayed for it nonetheless. Immediately, the phrase, “shouts of joy and victory”, from a Psalm our family had been memorizing, came to my mind. But I quickly dismissed it because that didn’t seem to fit me. I am not a loud person by any means. I had always thought my name meant a kind of peaceful happiness. That seems to gel more with my personality.
The next day I happened to look up a Scripture that God had used mightily in my life to deliver me from fear. Zephaniah 3:17. I began looking up this reference in all different translations of the Old Testament. The Complete Jewish Bible translation reads: “Adonai your God is right there with you, as a Mighty Savior. He will rejoice over you and be glad, He will be silent in His love, He will shout over you with joy.” And there it was again. This concept of shouting joy. So I looked up the Hebrew word for that specific use of joy in that passage and it is the word “B’rinnah” which means “praise with loud, joyful shouting or singing.” And this is the meaning of my name. A triumphant shout of joy.
And so God has revealed to me my name, my calling. A shout of triumph over the enemy of this dismal and corrupt world. A shout of joy that my God is still a Mighty Savior. That He rejoices over me. That I can be still and know His love. Even though there is still pain. Even though things are not how I want them to be.
He is here. He is right here in our midst. Emmanuel means God with us. It is the victory of advent. It is the joy that triumphs over the sadness. And it is mine.