For two of my friends, this yuletide season will be a difficult one. They’ve both lost loved ones during this period, and the festive season reminds them of the painful absence. Sometimes it’s hard to feel joyous during Christmas.

While this season would hardly seem complete without the singing of “Joy to the World,” how can we sing for joy when our heart is grieving in pain? The song was penned by Isaac Watts, not as a Christmas carol but as a reinterpretation of Psalm 98—a psalm that calls the earth to praise God in view of His coming reign. The lyrics contain rich themes of Jesus’ coming to dwell among us as a human being, so most hymnals list the song as an Advent carol.

And, indeed, the fact that Christ came in the flesh is grounds for true joy. Preacher Charles Simeon termed it as the “most marvelous occurrence that ever the world beheld.” Consider this: The King of Kings wasn’t born in a palace, but in a lowly stable. And He became accessible to regular folks like you and me.

Why did He come? The Lord “remembered his promise to love and be faithful” (Psalm 98:3). He came to save (Psalm 98:1), announce His victory, and reveal His righteousness (Psalm 98:2).

When we think about Christmas and face it with tears—like my friends, we still have hope: Jesus is coming again. The baby who was placed in a manger will wipe every tear from our eyes, and we will enjoy His blessings forever (Revelation 21:4).

As you hear and sing “Joy to the World” this season, may the lyrics bring you joy, for “The Lord is come!” “The Savior reigns,” “He comes to make His blessings flow,” and “He rules the world with truth and grace.” Yes, joy to the world—for our Savior has come!

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Peter 3:1-22