Friday, June 22, 2007

Joy, Part 2: The Enemy and the Source of Our Joy

Isn't it amazing? You start a day trusting God and rejoicing in His grace; everything is going your way and you feel good. By the end of the day (or perhaps by the end of the morning?), you feel quite the opposite: worries and discouragements flood your heart. I'm sure we can all relate to this scenario, but what is it that causes the "joy" to go out the door so quickly for you and me? Our problem is this: We are allowing our circumstances to dictate whether or not we'll be joyful. If only [blank], then I'd be happy!

Our circumstances, or, rather, the act of resting our hope in them, can become the enemy of our joy because they are unreliable and unsteady. When we base our happiness on the hope that things will turn out our way, it’s no wonder we lack joy! If we count on getting our way as a source of happiness, "joy" will take a nosedive whenever our circumstances do (and nosedive they will). In fact, when we idolize our desires and actually do get what we want, what we're experiencing is not true joy at all; it's only a temporary feeling.

I'm so glad that we have an infinitely better source of joy than our ever-changing circumstances; we have a firm, unshakable Fountain of Delights in the unchanging God. He is the only dependable source of genuine and lasting joy.
Though our circumstances change rapidly, the Almighty God remains unchanged. He remains good, faithful, merciful, loving, and sovereign. Whatever befalls us, we have a consistent source of joy in the Lord.

But what about when we don't get what we desire, when things don't go our way? Though trials are very real and painful, it is possible to be joyful in the midst of them. We find lots of evidence in Scripture that it is possible to rejoice when circumstances are less than desirable. The prophet Habakkuk knew that he could rejoice in the Lord in the midst of some serious affliction:

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Though everything in our temporarily happy worlds may be crumbling and changing, we can "rejoice in the LORD." We can rejoice in the very midst of suffering because he remains the same unchanging God, but in order to do that, we must transfer our gaze from our circumstances to our God.

If you are a Christian, you have a source of unending joy in the Lord at your disposal, a source that continues for eternity. That's a lot longer than the first three hours of your morning!



thebeloved said...

Thank you. I needed this reminder today. Blessings!

Lana said...

Great job on reminding us that we can and should be joyful in all circumstances. How true it is that if we can't learn to be joyful now in every situation, our joy when we finally get "blank" will not be lasting. It was so amazing to hear the testimonies of the women at the conference who exemplified joy in any and all circumstances. The woman who lost her home, and still she remained joyful. The woman who's 2 year old daughter had leukemia, and still she remained joyful. And the woman who lost her husband, and still she remained joyful. They are truly examples worth following.
This song helps me instruct my heart!

"Teach me Your way, Lord, make straight the path before me. Do not forsake me, my hope is in You. As I walk through life, I am confident I will see Your goodness with every step, and my heart directs me to seek You in all that I do, so I will wait for You."

Thanks Amber!

Stephen said...

I loved hearing all about the trip and seeing the pictures and Annesley's hair. The way you ended the message was so true

"The Christians of Haiti never lost sight of the Giver because all they had was the Giver. Father, please give us the grace to never lose sight of you amongst all the gifts you have given us. When you remove these gifts and you bring suffering into our lives, may we always rejoice and serve you with gladness because of the future glory that is to be revealed."

This same thing was shown to me when I went to Bolivia, the 2nd poorest country in South America. People were sharing everything they had with from food to clothing just in appreciation for us coming and we came to give to them. I saw how easy it was for me to take things for granted, from sanitation to a refrigeration. These people remember God in the deepest of trials and worship Him with the biggest smiles ever. It truly is infectious. Thanks for the reminder of the grace God has bestowed upon us as Christians and Americans.

Nathan said...

How true it is that we so quickly forget what our joy should be rooted in. Thank you for bringing me back to the word of God and where my joy should be rooted in.