This word has been so heavy on my heart lately. JOY. I’ve seen it in red and in lights all over the place as churches and retailers alike nurture the attitude of the season. I’ve felt it slipping through my fingers as motherhood demands and jam packed schedules rule the day. Mostly, I’ve felt the deep need to fight for its presence in my life despite disappointments and stresses of every kind.
When I dream about the season, I picture our family frolicking through a winter wonderland while sharing scripture or deep conversations about the meaning of the holiday. I picture us laughing, deep belly laughs while watching Christmas movies and sipping hot chocolate. I hope for us to experience all the joys the holiday brings.
But life almost never turns out the way we imagine. And so I feel that deep, longing need to do the work of joy and reconnect with the source of all joy…which I suppose is the reason he came in the first place.
I am trying to honestly share the struggle for true joy with my children and invite them into the process of joy. Joy is more than happiness in the moment. Joy is the deep and abiding presence of contentment, peace and pleasure. It’s what I want most for us this holiday season and the whole year through.
3 Bible Stories That Teach Kids About Joy
Sarah and Isaac
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 21:1-3, 6-7 ESV)
God brings joy through unexpected blessings. The name Isaac means “laughter”. Sarah found joy in the unexpected and long awaited blessing of her son. Of course she felt happy after finally receiving the child she longed for but her deep joy came in recognizing that God’s timing was best. Use this story to share with your child that since life almost never turns out the way we imagine, we must always be on the look out for hidden blessings. This may come in a surprise gift or connection or experience but it also may simply come by recognizing God in all that surrounds us. Sarah may have moved on from her desire to have children. She probably thought it would never happen. But God brought her this blessing when she least expected it and she was ready to receive him with joy.
Related verse: For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. Psalm 92:4
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11 ESV)
Jesus is the source of our joy. The wise men only knew so much about who Jesus was and why he came and yet, the Bible says they were filled with great joy. Knowing all that we know today, I wonder why we don’t join in their exceeding joy. Use this story to explain to your child that Jesus is the ultimate promise fulfilled. Jesus is God’s greatest gift. Because of Jesus we have the hope of heaven and the promise of peace as we go through life here on earth. I cannot think of a better reason to be filled with joy. When life gets hard and we feel joy slipping away we can refocus on Jesus and be filled again.
Related verse: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. John 15:11
Paul and Barnabas Share the Good News
And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:49, 52 ESV)
Our joy is spread through the good news of Jesus’ love. It’s not enough to be filled with joy and keep it to ourselves. God made us for community. He wants us to share his love with others. Use this story to share with your child that when we share our joy with others, we are sharing the good news of Jesus’ love. And this is the whole reason he came to us on Christmas in the first place! Paul and Barnabas were asked by God to spread the good news of Jesus’ love. They travelled and ministered to people all over to make sure they understood the joy that could only be found in Jesus. We may not travel the world (well, not yet but maybe someday) but we can share the love of Jesus with family and friends right where we are.
Related verse: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
What stories or examples are you using to teach your child about joy?
Jessica Wolstenholm is co-founder of Grace for Moms. After 15 years in the music and publishing industries, Jessica came home to be with her two small children. Although the transition from the corporate world to the playground has been an adjustment, she is learning every day to access the grace available to us through Christ as she navigates the full time job of motherhood. She is the co-author of The Pregnancy Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey to Motherhood and The Baby Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey Through Baby’s First Year. Jessica lives in Nolensville, TN with her husband, Dave and two miracle babies, Hope (6) and Joshua (2).