There is something infectious about joy when it bubbles over. Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t stop laughing? Literally, could not stop? My mind goes back to childhood in church giggling to the point my friends and I were called out from the pulpit. (You know who you are!) I was honestly trying to stop, but we were tickled and just couldn’t make ourselves serious enough. I tried thinking of sad things and that only made my laughter worse. I covered my mouth. Tried to mute it. To no avail. Even once the embarrassment of being called out passed, we had trouble not looking at each other and starting all over again. The only thing that prevented it from continuing was knowing I was in big trouble once I got home. The fear of the consequences, stopped joy in its tracks.

Fear is the joy-killer. It sucks the laughter right out of the air. It douses joy with a heavy blanket. It doesn’t matter what you are afraid of. Being alone? Relationships that have gone awry crumbling? Grief that will never relent? Hardship? Financial ruin? Business failure? Consequences of your actions? Name your fear. Here’s a hint: Once you name it, you can see it better. You can call it out for what it is, a joy killer. Honestly, calling it out doesn’t change the fear, but it does help to recognize a foe before you are emptied of your strength…because remember, the joy of the Lord is your strength.

I imagine baby Jesus laughing. A baby belly laugh. Laughter is contagious. Baby laughter is even more so. The innocence of it and the depth of a belly laugh from a baby can move the staunchest stoic to smile. Laughter is medicine. When one person is joyful, it spreads. Soon, everyone within earshot is joyful too.

I wonder if the sun shone brighter when Jesus laughed. If the clouds parted and the heavens opened up. I think it would be like regular baby laughter, on steroids. Joy has the effect of turning a day around. Turning a frown upside down. If you are without joy, name your fear. Then find someone who has some joy overflowing, or watch some laughing baby videos on YouTube. I dare you not to laugh. Hang with joyful people for a bit. If you can’t find any people with joy, God has some if you need it and he is always happy to share his.

Oh, the joy of the baby born! Heaven comes to Earth. The heavens were overflowing with joy on that day. I laughed and poured it out to everyone who listened. I couldn’t contain myself. The plan to reconcile the whole earth was in motion. Soon, all people could come to me face to face. That was and is my heart’s desire. To be together with you. Does it surprise you, that after all this time, I still long to be with you? I still yearn to bring you into my joy. It will always be so. Name your joy-killing fear, then bring it to me. Lay it at my feet. Once you have put it down, your arms will be ready for joy overflowing.

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