Songs Of Joy
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Chan Gin Kai
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:39-45)
From this passage right to the end of the chapter, we see many joyful moments. There are old prayers answered, unexpected blessings, and salvation for humanity. We find songs of joy from Mary and Zechariah too. There is a lot we can learn from them in our own search for joy.
Joy From Jesus
The joy that unborn John felt in his mother’s womb was nothing ordinary. It’s not the kind of contentment we enjoy in a cup of ice cream, the healing we feel in a reconciled relationship, or the sweet taste of victory after a long defeat. These are beyond what any unborn baby can feel. The joy that unborn John felt was a connection with the other unborn baby when Mary appeared; it was a spiritual connection with Jesus.
Yes, we can always dig into tubs of rum and raisin to savour a fleeting moment of delectable bliss. But we will not always find victories over the various obstacles we face. Like the inexorable multiplication of a hydra’s heads, life throws us more obstacles for every one that we’ve chopped off. But there is a joy that we can find regardless of our situation in life – the joy from a connection with Jesus.
Do you feel connected to Jesus? If you don’t feel joy in your life, chances are you’re not. Get connected to Jesus again. Pray for it, fast for it. Drink deeply from his words. Jesus wants to be connected to you too.
Joy From Gratitude
Upon meeting Elizabeth, Mary broke out in a song of joy:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name” (Luke 1:46-48).
Mary was humble. She saw her need of a Saviour and she acknowledged her role as a humble servant. She knew that she was considered blessed not because of who she was, but because of what God had done for her. The Greek word “blessed” in this passage is makários, describing a believer in an enviable and fortunate position from receiving God’s provision. She knew it was all about God, and not about her. Her humility and gratitude towards God was what made her joyful.
A lack of humility and gratitude is very often the biggest reason why we’re unhappy. When we think highly of ourselves and consider ourselves worthy, we start feeling entitled and assume that we deserve God’s blessings. Like Mary, we need to acknowledge our sins, realise we deserve condemnation, and see our need for our Saviour. Through the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus, we have received salvation. This is already far more than we deserve. If an eternity in heaven can’t fill us with joy, let’s not even imagine that a beautiful girlfriend, a good marriage, obedient children, a fat bank account, or endless holidays can.
If we are not grateful, God’s blessings on us are wasted because nothing will ever satisfy us. When we become humble, our eyes open up and we will see that God has already blessed us very abundantly.
Joy In Hope For Humanity
When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. (Luke 1:57-58)
Elizabeth’s family and friends shared her joy because they felt God had shown her mercy by giving her a child. But we see something different from Zechariah’s song. Zechariah and Elizabeth rejoiced because they saw God showing mercy to mankind.
“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:76-79)
Zechariah’s song was about the “tender mercy of our God”. It was not about the joy that his son could bring him, but the role his son would play in preparing the way for Jesus. He was happy because there is hope for humanity.
We usually base our joy on what we receive and don’t often derive joy from seeing others happy. In fact, we even get envious sometimes, and grumble. We need to learn from Zechariah, and see beyond ourselves. More importantly, we need to see how fortunate all of humanity is, to have been given a hope for salvation. Do we share this joy with the people around us? Evangelism will not feel like a chore or a duty when we realise that what we have is truly good news.
Let us sing our songs of joy, for we have found salvation.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".