TEACHER:  Ken Hicks


BOTTOM LINE: JOY Defies Circumstances!

QUESTION:  How Can We Experience JOY in ALL Seasons of Life?



Have you ever given or received a Puppy for CHRISTmas?  Maybe you’ve seen it on TV or in the movies?  It’s impossible to keep a Puppy in that box for very long, and the same is true w/ the JOY in our life.

JOY is a lot like Puppies!   Fortunately … it doesn’t Shed … it doesn’t make a mess … it doesn’t chew up the couch and shoes we leave laying around … but JOY is boundless and uncontainable.

Zechariah & Elizabeth were old.  Elizabeth was beyond child-bearing years and the couple had NEVER been able to have kids, so besides the Shock from talking to an angel, Zechariah couldn’t get over the fact that it was possible for his wife to have a baby.

As he questioned, his voice was taken away until John the Baptist was born.

TODAY,  I want to dive a littler deeper into Elizabeth’s story,  and how the JOY she experienced amidst the miraculous events she experienced was incredible.

To Understand Her JOY we Have to Understand Her PAIN.

To be Childless was a source of great frustration, sorrow, and even shame. Elizabeth would have lived this part of her life and experienced the despair for many years. It’s likely that she and Zechariah married as teen-agers, and as most couples do, would have begun trying to have children almost immediately.

She would never be considered as worthy or esteemed as other women, and at this point in her life, would have accepted her fate as a failure in the eyes of society.

STILL, Elizabeth must have known some happiness as well.  She would have been deeply involved in community life, especially since Zechariah was a priest.  Although she carried her emotional burden hidden in her own heart beneath the surface, she and Zechariah remained faithful to God.


Imagine after the Angel shared w/ Zechariah, and then as he doubted, God took away his voice.  So, he gets home, and now has to try to communicate this message to his wife, w/o being able to speak.




What Would We Give to know that kind of JOY?  To see the scars and shame of our life washed away so quickly and so dramatically?

Odds are, we won’t see it so clearly through that kind of miracle, but the JOY Elizabeth experienced is available to us too.  This is the JOY that came when Jesus arrived, and even though we’re long after His physical presence on earth, His Life and His Presence and His JOY are still something we can experience.

JOY includes Happiness, but it is so much more than that too.  JOY permeates our souls, and we can experience JOY in things like …

  • … the birth of a child
  • … our wedding day
  • … hearing the words, you are now Cancer Free.
  • … when a loved one has a medical turn-around or healing


JOY Defies our Circumstances:

Not Defines … but Defies.  If there’s 1 defining characteristic difference between JOY & happiness that I hope we can take away from our time together today … it’s this … that JOY defies our Circumstances!

HAPPINESS comes and goes w/ the positive events and experiences in our life.

JOY understands that there is more than meets the eye; hat God is always at work, even in the tough stuff of life.  Eventually, God will make everything right and healed and whole … including us!



That said, there’s often a Process isn’t there?  And I think that’s part of the point to be honest.  As we continue to practice opening our hearts to God’s Spirit & Presence, and immersing ourselves in His Word [because many times we have no where else to turn to really try to find hope and joy],  we begin to align ourselves w/ God’s Ways and God’s Plan.



I want to gently close w/ 1 more aspect of JOY … and that’s that JOY can be a CHOICE … and JOY can be an ACTION.

Mary chose JOY!

And so can We!