Untriumphantly: Deeper Than Happy

This third week of Advent is the week of Joy!

But a branch will emerge from the trunk of Yishai,
a shoot will grow from his roots.
The Spirit of Adonai will rest on him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and power,
the Spirit of knowledge and fearing Adonai —
he will be inspired by fearing Adonai.
He will not judge by what his eyes see
or decide by what his ears hear,
but he will judge the impoverished justly;
he will decide fairly for the humble of the land.
He will strike the land with a rod from his mouth
and slay the wicked with a breath from his lips.
Justice will be the belt around his waist,
faithfulness the sash around his hips.

The wolf will live with the lamb;
the leopard lie down with the kid;
calf, young lion and fattened lamb together,
with a little child to lead them.
Cow and bear will feed together,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
An infant will play on a cobra’s hole,
a toddler put his hand in a viper’s nest.
They will not hurt or destroy
anywhere on my holy mountain,
for the earth will be as full
of the knowledge of Adonai
as water covering the sea.

On that day the root of Yishai,
which stands as a banner for the peoples —
the Goyim will seek him out,
and the place where he rests will be glorious.
On that day Adonai will raise his hand
again, a second time,
to reclaim the remnant of his people who remain
from Ashur, Egypt, Patros,
Ethiopia, ‘Eilam, Shin‘ar,
Hamat and the islands in the sea.
He will hoist a banner for the Goyim,
assemble the dispersed of Isra’el,
and gather the scattered of Y’hudah
from the four corners of the earth.
Efrayim’s jealousy will cease —
those who harass Y’hudah will be cut off,
Efrayim will stop envying Y’hudah,
and Y’hudah will stop provoking Efrayim.
They will swoop down on the flank of the P’lishtim to the west.
Together they will pillage the people to the east —
they will put out their hand over Edom and Mo’av,
and the people of ‘Amon will obey them.
Adonai will dry up the gulf
of the Egyptian Sea.
He will shake his hand over the [Euphrates] River
to bring a scorching wind,
dividing it into seven streams
and enabling people to cross dryshod.
There will be a highway for the remnant of his people
who are still left from Ashur,
just as there was for Isra’el
when he came out from the land of Egypt.

Isaiah 11:1-16 (CJB)

            We live within a world that is looking for happy. We’re looking for the quick fix, the easy way, a happy passing moment. If you were to sit down and make a list of how you could be happy, you’d have no shortage of ideas. And none of them would really work—not for long. Happiness is fleeting. Happiness is an emotion. Joy is a mindset. It is the difference between sadness and depression. Happiness isn’t all there is, and it isn’t all that can be. It isn’t even worth chasing—it passes so quickly, and we’re more likely to find it when we stop chasing it. We’re looking for a shallow emotion when what we really need runs much deeper. 

            The people of Israel were awaiting a Messiah. They were awaiting a coming King who would save them. But what they got wasn’t exactly what they were expecting. They were looking for a king, and they got a baby. They thought that belt of justice would be, well, a little bigger and more menacing to their enemies. They were looking for a solution to their shallow problems, not knowing how deep their problems ran. What they got was deeper. 

            During Advent, we celebrate the first coming of the Messiah and eagerly await His second. I’ll be the first to admit the season is weird. It isn’t just about that manger. It is about a King returning on a white horse. It isn’t just about the Baby born long ago in a manger but about the coming day when a baby can put his hand in a viper’s nest. It is about all things being made new. You and I and this world—we’re all still in the middle of this Advent story. The end hasn’t made itself known yet. We’re still waiting for the deeper, the Act 2. 

            This Advent, don’t waste time searching for happiness. Take the time to invest in the deeper aspects of the season, and in those depths, you’ll find joy. Take the time to prepare yourself, to ask, “Have I lived a life that reflects the Messiah? Have I lived this Advent as if I look forward to all things being made new? Am I letting Him remake me now as I await His return? Am I doing all I can to share the love and joy of Christ with us? Am I being a light in this darkness? Will I be ready when the Son rises?”

Today’s Song: Arrival by Hillsong Worship

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