Category: Cultural Commentary Written by Jim Denison
During this week of Advent meditations, we are focusing today on joy. Would you like real joy today? Where should you go to find it?
Happiness is based on "happenings," but joy transcends them. Paul could say, "in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds" (2 Corinthians 7:4). Here's one of my favorite statements in Scripture: "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior" (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
Joy is not possible outside the Lord: "Surely you know how it has been from of old, ever since man was placed on the earth, that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment" (Job 20:4-5). Joy is a gift only God can give.
It has three sources. First, find joy in your salvation. Jesus taught his followers to "rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20). Second, find joy by reading and obeying the Scriptures: "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight" (Jeremiah 15:16). Third, find joy in the Spirit: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy . . ." (Galatians 5:22). When we are submitted to the Spirit, we will have his joy. When we are not, we will not. Joy is a test of your spiritual health.
Settle for nothing less. When the Spirit is controlling and empowering you, "the joy of the Lord will be your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).
Isaiah 9:6 describes the coming Messiah as the "Mighty God," literally "the God who possesses might." G. K. Chesterton said of Christmas, "The Child that played with moon and sun is playing with a little hay." When he empowers us, we will have his joy.
Dwight Moody was four when his father died. He received the equivalent of a fifth-grade education. His church and home were destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Despite the challenges he faced across his long ministry, Moody testified: "I am so thankful that I have a joy that the world cannot rob me of; I have a treasure that the world cannot take from me; I have something that is not in the power of man or devil to deprive me of, and that is the joy of the Lord."
Can you say the same today?