The Wellspring of Joy
Scriptures: John 16:16-31 Hebrews 12:1-2 Nehemiah 8:10 Numbers 6:24-26
Joy – it’s not a word you hear much in conversation these days. People say they are happy, or great, or having fun when their lives are going along quite nicely. But no-one says they are joyful. It is almost as if it’s too old fashioned or, perhaps, even embarrassing to admit this. What would people think if we did, when the world is in the mess it’s in, with political chaos, societal changes that threaten to engulf us, discrimination and violence at every turn? Yet, Jesus was unequivocal when He said “your JOY no-one takes from you”.
In the book of Hebrews, the writer tells us that it was for the joy that was set before Him that Jesus went to the cross and suffered all He did. I remember the enormity of my gratitude and the sense of astonishment when I first heard and believed that we are the joy that Jesus could see, we are the joy that He endured all of that cruelty for. But what did He see through the blood and sweat and torture? Did He see our sin? Did He see our depravity? No, it was the finished, complete, perfect work of God in us that He saw.
I truly believe that what gave Jesus the strength to go through all He did was indeed the JOY of the Lord. And, if that is so, surely, this is what He saw in us as He hung on the cross at Calvary.
In our Father God, there are no degrees of love. We are loved by Him with the same intensity and ferocity that He loves His Son, not one jot less. The limitless Love of God is just as much our inheritance as His children, as it is Christ’s. When we turn and run into the Arms of the One who has been pursuing us all our lives and surrender fully to our Father God, He fills us to overflowing with that Love in the Person of Holy Spirit. And, within that Love is the overwhelming joy that we are forever His, forever held in His Hands, forever alive in Him.
The enemy would have us believe that we can be dragged in and out of that joy by our circumstances, by the trials and tribulations we all go through. This is a lie spoken by the father of lies in an attempt to destroy what is our inheritance by right, bought and paid for by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ with His precious Blood. Jesus made it clear that we will suffer hardship in this world, but this is not our home, this is not where our treasure is. Our treasure is in the depth of the Joy that is within us, the Joy that cannot be affected by circumstances and pain. The Joy of the Lord.
So, shall we change our language? Do we have the courage to actually say we are joyful when people ask how we are? Can we risk being ridiculed for being blind to our problems and the world’s chaos because we say we are joyful? Do I have the courage? Perhaps I would be better to ask myself who I believe. Do I believe the evidence of my temporal sight and feelings, or do I believe the One who assures each and every one of us that He holds us in His Hands, never lets us go?
The Joy of the Lord is our strength, just as it was the strength that sustained Jesus during His torture and crucifixion. If we can look past the sin, the pain, the anguish and see the Joy set before us; the Joy that is like an ever-flowing river in our being, then we, too, will be strengthened and sustained, no matter what we are going through.
24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”