It’s that time of the year again: the holiday season is upon us! For many, it can be both exciting and stressful, both happy and sad. You can find blogposts all over the Internet, encouraging people to find, experience, and keep their joy during the holiday season. This is often a challenge amidst the chaos, stress, loneliness and grief people associate with the season.

What these bloggers and readers are searching for are practical ways to make this time of year less stressful and sad. They tell the reader that if they do just enough of these self help steps, they will be able to find and experience a joy within themselves that will sustain them through the holiday season.

At heart, I believe that these bloggers mean nothing but the best in trying to help people cope with the realities of the season. But often, many end up missing the foundational point. Joy can’t be found within yourself or in people, things, finances, work, or even the holidays themselves.

All of us desire joy. We search for it in so many things and in so many ways. But the truth is — Joy is a gift. And here’s the good news for the Christian — an abundant  and everlasting joy has already been gifted to us! Jesus Christ came to give us joy. Any other form of joy is artificial and momentary. Truly Christ has given us an everlasting joy that is unparalleled. The very essence of the Gospel is that it is “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10)His coming is our joy, for He is our treasure, our greatest good.

And because of this, we see that God’s people have an unshakable joy and are commanded to be joyful and characterized by joy all over the Bible.

In Philippians 4:4: we see the command “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

And Psalm 32:1-2 describes those who are joyful by saying “How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is a person whom the Lord does not charge with iniquity.” 

Although these two verses are different, as one shows us a command and the other a description, both of these verses show us the one core theme for what our joy is based on. Our joy is not based on something, it is based on Someone. It is based on Jesus, the Lord who saves!

My mother-in-law works for a Christian Rescue Mission that serves homeless and impoverished families in Cleveland, Ohio. As she was leading a Bible study on the book of Philippians for women in the program, she heard powerful stories on how many of them found Christ while in prison. They shared how they never experienced so much joy in their lives outside of prison where they were in search of it all of their lives, and thought they could find it in different things and people. But no earthly thing can ever give us complete joy. It was in this place, stripped of all the things we search for joy in, that their joy was found. And it was found because they encountered Jesus.

Author Melissa Kruger writes that “our desire for joy is ultimately a desire for Jesus”. In the end we all long for a joy that is abundant and everlasting. But our hearts will go restless in searching for joy until we come to know Christ and find our rest in him.

So why is it important for you to know that your joy is found in Jesus? Because it will transform the way you look at this holiday season — and all of life! 

Knowing that my joy is found in Jesus means that my joy is not based on my circumstances. Our joy is not based on our family, our finances, our success, nor our possessions. And because it is not based on our circumstances, it does not have temporal limitations. Both in the good times and in times of suffering and trials I still have a joy that is unwavering!

So what are the gospel centered ways you can find, experience and keep your joy through the holiday season — and beyond? I challenge you to think through the following ways to live it out.

Remember where joy comes from. Remember that joy is a gift from God given to us in its fulness in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the Lord who saves and when we remember that our salvation is in Him, we will be thankful for all that he has done. A thankful heart is a joyful heart.

Ask for joy. Psalm 51:12 shows King David praying for God to give him joy in a difficult situation. We too can pray that God would make His joy tangible in our lives.

Remain in the joy. Jesus urges His followers to remain in Him in John 15:10-11. We must remain in constant unity with Jesus through his word. His word will guide us to live for Him to the fullest. We won’t just try to obey His word to get something from God. We will obey His word because we have God and we want to enjoy him. 

Share the joy. We should spread the message of the joy of the gospel to our neighbors who don’t know and follow Jesus. We can point them to the One who gives everlasting joy.