Joy – a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was a member of the U.S. Supreme Court for 30 years. His mind, wit and work earned him the unofficial title of “the greatest justice since John Marshall.” At one point in his life, Justice Holmes explained his choice of a career by saying: “I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers.”
That is too many times the look we tend to get when going through trials and struggles. I know my face starts to prune up pretty quick when things are going tough and I have to reevaluate my position on the joys of life when that happens. I guess people might think we pastors have a suit of armor that protects us from the wrong tendencies in life, but that is very far from reality. But, we are held more accountable to God to keep our walk fresh and current and part of that is getting a handle on JOY!
I remember singing a song in church years ago and someone came up and did the “backhanded” comment thing. They had a “thing” against me and critiqued every thing I did and proceeded to say, “Great job on your song, but….did you mean to miss that one word on the second verse?” I wanted to reply, “Of course, I meant to miss it because I wanted you to have something to talk about today.” But I didn’t. The smart remark was replaced with “no, but thanks for letting me know.” I thought to myself, “What right does that person have to come up and ruin something I just gave to my Lord?” Out of all the beautiful and positive comments on the song, I let that one stick in my crawl. That was a mistake. Why? Because I was using the talent God gave me to lift up that song to Him, not an audience. He was my audience and I believe He loved it. That person was not coming in the Name of Jesus Christ, My Savior. He was trying to benefit someone much different than Christ and had succumbed to his master’s wishes and it worked….. for a while. God’s grace kicked in for me and after a self evaluation, I realized that God wanted me to walk away from the “heaviness” that the person had planted on me that day. And I did.
That’s what joy is really all about, happiness and pleasure, and peace, on the inside. That day God revealed to me that He loves ME, not some other person’s impression of me and that brought me great joy.
King David in 1 Chronicles 16 wrote a psalm of praise to the Lord. To me it is a psalm of joy where David speaks of God’s great strength and His glory. He calls all to look to the Lord and seek His face and gives thanks for the miracles of God. In verse 27 David says, “Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy in His dwelling place.” These words should make us very joyful. Why? Because God, through Jesus Christ, dwells in those who know Him….Christians. What this means is that we can’t conjure up some form of joy to impress God and those around us. It dwells in each of us who know Christ. We have the capacity to have great joy in all things and in the Lord who lives in us. Does that mean it automatically comes out at the right time? No. But it does mean we have it, and if we will step back and see what’s important in life, we will experience it as well. When the women went to look at the tomb where Jesus was buried in after a great earthquake, they experienced the joy of knowing that He was alive and what he had said was true. In Matthew 28:8, scripture says they hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy and ran to tell His disciples. Where did that joy come from? The confirmation that Jesus was alive and that He was the Messiah. Further proof that our joy comes from within, when we experience the life of Christ in us. Here’s a reality check moment. The more we experience Christ in our life, the more satan attacks, but, the more we experience Christ in our life, the more joy we experience as a result. More attacks…..more joy. It should not be More attacks…..more depression. If that is your perspective then that needs to change. My wife and I have been going through unprecedented bad things as of late and our walk is being challenged by the very people who should be lifting us up, but they aren’t. They are letting us down on a daily basis, but God is faithful (last blog) and our joy is intact. James wrote to a joyless church in James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” He goes on to say that these trials are building our faith, which means they are not meant to take away a Godly joy that comes from Him. Oh sure, in our situation disobedient Christians are at fault, but God will take care of them as He takes care of us. They cannot take away our joy though. The real joy giver is still healing hearts, encouraging the persecuted, and taking care of His called people. How could I not have joy, in the light of that encouraging news!! Knowing God….Now that’s Joy!! Like the old chorus says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength!” Now that will put a smile on your face.
The Pilgrimage continues….