Today is the third Sunday of Advent. Today we hold Joy.

Joy is often described as a profound sense of well-being that stems from an assurance that regardless of our circumstances or where we are at personally God is always good, always in control and always cares about us.

Joy is a movement of the soul. It is the Spirit moving within us, stirring and stretching us, so that we gradually become capable of finding joy in all circumstances.

Joy helps us find Good, when good seems hard to find. It allows us to discern Beauty, when we would struggle to find it otherwise. We find Hope even in the midst of despair and Peace in our turmoils and trials. Joy is the glimmers of Light that break into our dark and dreary circumstances.

Yet, it would be remiss if joy was only associated with exaltation and rejoicing. Because while it is that, it is not always that.

The truth is that joy can be elusive and not easily found in our deepest suffering. Joy is fleeting in the shadows of our grief. So, it becomes about being able to hold both our sorrow and joy at the same time. It is about wading through the murky grief until we begin to feel it shift. And over time we start seeing more light than dark, feeling more joy than despair.

The lifeline to joy is trusting in our heavenly Father. Trusting he is always faithful, ever steadfast, full of grace and abundant love. The prophet Isaiah reminds that because the Holy One is always among us, we can shout aloud and sing for joy (Isa 12:6).

In this Advent season may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope and joy by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13). And may hope, peace and joy be your constant companions.