I once knew a girl named Joy. In high school we dated a few times. Her name was a misnomer for sure. She was not a joy…in fact she was a grouch! Unlike Snow White’s seven dwarfs- names don’t make character. Happy is not always happy and Dopey is- well he is an exception! Once a dope always a dope 😉
I digress, back to “JOY.” We all know that happiness is based on “what happens.” It is circumstantial, and thus not dependable. When we ask a friend, “How are you doing?” that question will evoke a circumstantial answer. Your friend will tell you about his happenings. He will often only tell you his pleasant happenings and cleverly omit the not so good. Also, we can manufacture temporary and momentary happiness by a trip to Disneyland or the nearby movie theater. Happiness is fickle and fleeting.
Not so with real joy. Joy is not like that at all. It goes much deeper, and comes from a much more spiritual place. You remember Jesus talked to us about the joy he alone could give us. It is a gift from Him to you. When you have His joy in you, you will know it; others will see it, want it, and be drawn to it.
I’ve seen that joy in the most unusual places- the slums of Nairobi, amongst the poorest people on earth, and I’ve seen it light up the faces of the diseased, sick and dying. Joy is the light that shines in the bright eyes of those who truly experience God’s abiding presence.
Just a few weeks ago I was preaching in an African church. The building was small, made only of tin and a few poles to hold up the walls and roof. The benches and chairs were plastic, cheap and not very reliable. It was a depressing sight and a far cry from the air conditioned, carpeted worship centers you and I meet God in each week.
However, when the children came to the front to sing, dressed in their shabby “best,” their bronze faces aglow with a simple faith and love for Christ- I saw it again-the Joy of the Lord! As they sang you would never know they had a care in the world. They were joyful!
You and I need more of that! We really do! You cannot buy it, create it, or even fake it. It is a gift from Jesus to those who want Him more than happiness. It is found only in those who believe that Jesus is their strength-for everything. This kind of Joy is a fruit of His Spirit’s presence in a life and heart that truly loves him.
Today, I claim as mine, His promise in John 16:24, ”Until now you have asked for nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your JOY may be full.” Lord we’re asking- fill us full of your joy!