What does that mean? To some of us, and to those who are going through traumatic circumstances it can seem unattainable at times.
How can a person find joy in an age where the world is collapsing around us? How can a person find joy if they are in war torn surroundings (like we are witnessing today), or maybe in a free country but your finances have been depleted, your health is compromised, or your loved ones have perished? Where is the joy in that hour?
Joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness is temporary. It is a fleeting moment of something special. Perhaps it is your wedding day, a new home, a vacation, winning the lottery, or whatever it is that brings your personal happiness.
But what happens when there are real life struggles? What happens when life is not going according to your plans? What happens to happiness when there is a catastrophe or maybe something more subtle like weariness, hopelessness or depression that knock on your door? Where is happiness then?
Many times, accompanying an article about famous people facing a divorce, is a picture of them together, with the caption stating, “in happier times”. That is just it. It was HAPPY times. Things were going ok. But then something began to crumble under their feet and now they are splitting up because they are no longer HAPPY with each other. It was a temporary thing.
But joy is different. It is a strength that cannot be dissolved by circumstances. That is why the Word states in Nehemiah 8:10b: “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” The people were sadden when they realized how much they had fallen from the Lord and rebelled. But they were told to no longer mourn for their strength would come from their joy in the Lord.
Joy in the Lord brings strength to your soul in the midst of otherwise circumstantial defeat. It is a substance that cannot be moved. It is a foundation that is permanent.
Remember the parable about the house that was built on the rock vs the house that was built on the sand (Matthew 7:24-27)? The wise man built his house on a rock (a good foundation) and when the storms came his house stood strong. But the foolish person did not listen and built his house on the sand. When the storms came, his house fell.
If the parable applies to having Jesus as our rock and we are building our life on him, when the storms come, we will be able to stand, unlike the person who built their house on the sand. Their foundation had no substance. Notice both houses had to endure a storm. We will all go through storms. But building your hopes and dreams around what this world has to offer or people that may disappoint you, will cause you to fall into complete chaos when a crisis hits.
Just as Jesus is the rock (or foundation) of our salvation, he is also the rock and foundation of our joy. Our strength comes from him. Our joy is complete in him!
John 15 speaks about abiding in Jesus and his love and obeying our Heavenly Father, just as he did. Jesus continues, “I have told you this so that my JOY may be in you and that your JOY may be complete.” (John 15:11 NIV)
Our joy becomes complete only through Jesus. How does his joy become our strength? It comes out of our relationship with our Lord even through trials.
The joy of the Lord becomes our strength once we begin our journey with him, as we abide in him, as we become passionate about him more than anything else, as we completely trust in him whether there is a storm or not. It is part of who he is. And he lives in us!
It comes from our relationship with Christ!
The joy of the Lord is not an emotion that we have to muster up. It is WHO WE ARE. We become full of joy because the Holy Spirit lives in us. Our hearts become his habitation as we spend time with him, in prayer, in worship, in life, regardless of what is happening around us.
In HIS presence there is joy.
Psalm 16:11” You make the path of life known to me. COMPLETE JOY IS IN YOUR PRESENCE. Pleasures are by your side forever.” (GWT)
His joy empowers us. It even empowered Jesus at the cross.
“We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the JOY ahead of him, so he endured the death of the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him.” Hebrews 12:2a (GWT)
That is why “the things of this world can grow so strangely dim,” as the old hymn states. He is our strength when we completely trust in him. That trust is not just in who he is, but who he is IN US and who we are IN HIM.
Whether you are walking in good times or fiery trials, as we get to know the creator of the universe, an unexplainable joy bubbles up from within.
Jesus IS JOY to those of us who believe. JOY cannot be moved by circumstances because it has become part of who we are when we became sons and daughters of God the Father. We cannot muster it up. It is a gift, as is salvation. That strength of his joy is found in his presence, regardless of any situation.
I pray that this becomes such a revelation to you. I pray the JOY of THE LORD consumes you in these hours we are facing. I pray that it doesn’t just consume you but that it flows over to those who have either forgotten who lives in them, as believers, or for those who have not yet tasted of the goodness of the Lord.
Be at peace in this hour.
(And I lift those up in Ukraine and other nations that are facing despair during these hours, whether war, weather or oppression. May God grant grace and mercy.)