In Isaiah 12:3, there is a wonderful phrase, “with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” or as the NLT renders it, “with joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!”
In the past few years I have been doing a lot of asking, and God has wonderfully answered. God encourages us to ask Him. “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)
Lately I have been asking God for joy and asking Him to help me enjoy the simple and everyday gifts which He gives. As I go for my regular prayer walks, I want to enjoy His wonderful creation, for everything He gives is enjoyable. “God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17)
Our Dad is helping me to appreciate the symmetrical and pleasing shapes of trees, varied cloud formations, wind, crisp chilly weather, blue skies, and postcard sunsets. I am grateful for eyesight and my senses to appreciate the beauty around me. I am thankful for the ability to walk and smell and hear and appreciate and absorb these gifts.
As I enjoy God’s creation, I also find myself enjoying Him. And wonder of wonders, as I meditate on God and His ways, I sense that God enjoys me enjoying Him and finding joy in who He is and what He has provided.
Joy in Serving
There is a song that says, “there is joy in serving Jesus.” I am seeing God to enable me to serve Jesus with joy instead of from a sense of duty or compulsion. Now I am cognizant that I enjoy writing, and studying, and speaking. These are gifts, and I am viewing this “work” as a privilege not an obligation. I enjoy reading God’s word, talking and communing with God, praising God, and learning more about Him and His ways.
Fighting for Joy
Sometimes we need to do more than ask for joy, we must fight for it. Recently I heard Joni Earekson Tada say she has to choose joy each morning when she awakes. Before her attendants help her prepare for the day, she lies in her bed struggling to find life. Her natural inclination is to give up, roll over, and die. But God helps her, by His Spirit, to wrestle and contend for His joy.
Then this joy becomes her strength. Nehemiah 8:10 says “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” This is not a pleasant Sunday School chorus. This is her life. When I think of Joni I think of this verse. Her body is weak, but her spirit is strong in the Lord. His joy, coursing through her and finding expression in songs and hymns gives her the strength to endure and overcome. She has now spent 50 years in a wheelchair and God continues to sustain her. May the joy of the Lord be our strength as well.
Joy in Sorrow
When I first heard the gospel, I liked the message of good news. I heard about forgiveness of sins, knowing Jesus personally, eternal life, accompanied by joy, peace, and abundant life. I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my heart, and He did. A few years later I recommitted my life to God, and decided to enter the ministry of sharing this good news with the lost.
Within a year and a half of this decision, my brother passed away in an automobile accident. This was my first encounter with suffering. I had become a Christian to escape life’s problems, and now I had lost a brother. I was grieving and called upon to give comfort to my friends and family. A friend came to church where I was supposed to deliver a sermon at Brian’s memorial service. I was empty. I had poured out life in all directions and had nothing left. As we knelt to pray, God met me. For the first time I experienced joy and sorrow simultaneously.
I was still grieving over my loss, but God was there. I arose with a smile on my face. I had joy AND sorrow. As Robert Schuller succinctly captures this truth; “Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.”
God is Joy-Full
Lastly, joy or any virtue have value in their own right, but they are best understood when connected with the author and giver of all good things. God gives joy, because God is joy. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, and finds it’s source in God. Our Dad is amazing.
May you each experience a God blessed joy-full Thanksgiving,