Tag Archives: joy

Got Joy?

“I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.  Where?  Down in my heart.  Where?  Down in my heart…”1   Sound familiar?

As children of God, the joy that we always have through the Holy Spirit can be stifled.  We can let our own problems, perhaps magnified or intensified at this time of the pandemic, take us over.  We can forget that in Jesus Christ we can overcome.  We can forget that joy helps us overcome.

In this time (that will pass) of COVID-19, if we’re not careful, joy is supplanted by sorrow, fear, and worry.  I don’t know about you, but I find that it has been too easy to succumb to the things that can bury my joy.  Whether it’s tuning in too much to the news of the progress and devastation of the virus…or it’s seeing loved ones (via FaceTime) suffer even more with the added stress and worsening of their illnesses…or it’s being socially isolated, not able to be with others, including at church…

What are we to do?  How are we to handle all this?

Abide in the Word.  Pray.  Worship.  And trust God with it all.

It’s one thing to stay in the Word.  Many of us do that.  Prayer, like breathing, comes easily.  But worship?  Worship at home when we don’t feel like it?  How important is that anyway?

When I discovered last week that I had cut back on worship time, I realized how important worship is.  (It seems that I’ve had to learn this lesson more than once!)  In the worship, my focus is on God and there is joy!  As I behold the beauty of the Lord, as I recognize His sovereignty and faithfulness, as I delight in His presence, joy rises up within me.  It was never really gone, of course, but it had become somewhat hidden.

“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the LORD is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.”                  Psalm 95:1-3 NKJV

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!”         Philippians 4:4 NKJV

“…the joy of the Lord is your strength.”     Nehemiah 8:10b NKJV

In order to be strong in this season and experience the fullness of His grace, let us rejoice!  Let us worship!  Let us glorify our King!

 

1  George William Cooke.  In Barry Bobb’s All God’s People Sing, Concordia Publishing House, 1992.

 

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The Joy Thief — Can You Spot Him?

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Have you ever noticed that our lives never seem to leave the fast lane?  Everything seems to operate at breakneck speed, and pauses must be carefully and deliberately orchestrated if they are ever to be experienced!  As a high-energy person, I generally thrive with a busy schedule; however, the past few years have been too frenetic even for me.  Events I await with anticipation end up seeming scrunched in between other demands that scream for attention; those long-awaited pleasures then become far too quickly a thing of the past.  Even though the past six months were rich in terms of experiences, I was not actually able to savor anything on more than a surface level.   After all, even the best of gourmet meals may as well be a fast-food hamburger if that meal is choked down without even chewing it!  Similarly, the pleasures of life cease to be pleasurable if we do not compel ourselves to actually stop long enough to experience the joys of the PAUSE! Indeed, I have MUCH for which to be profoundly thankful; my gratitude list is too long to enumerate.  Nonetheless, recently I have missed out on the joys associated with those people, things, and opportunities on my gratitude list, simply because I have been  moving too fast and feeling too anxious about the next task to be completed. 

Suddenly, I recognized the presence of the joy-stealer and realized that he had been stalking me for several months!   Specifically, the taste of a spritz cookie I baked using my mother’s recipe brought this revelation of joy and how I had missed it!  In Marcel Proust’s book,  À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, one bite of a madeleine cookie evoked a tidal wave of memories from the author’s childhood.  For me, that spritz cookie caused me to experience a sudden breakthrough of vibrant joy that I had not felt in a long time.

After all, Jesus warned us about the thief:  “ The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure”  John 10:10 (CJB).  The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy everything in my life that expresses God’s Presence:  my faith, my peace, my health, my joy.  When I notice my joy has evaporated, I need to remember that I have an enemy; somehow I had allowed him to plunder my joy.  Isn’t it wonderful that God can use such an insignificant thing as a small cookie to reveal to me my need for a fresh infilling of His joy and my need to pause long enough to savor it?

How do I take back what has been stolen?  The first step is to stop and reflect long enough to recognize its absence.  The second step is to repent for careening thoughtlessly along the highway of life with only the goal (however noble) in mind.  The third step is to ask Jesus, the ever-available Restorer, to make my heart new and restore to me the joy of my salvation (see Psalm 51).  

Father, empower me to experience fully Your Presence and goodness in the little delights of this holy-day season!  Grow larger in my heart, in Jesus’ Name!

 

 

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