Used with Permission by, Linda DeSilva
In these days, when joy seems to be in short supply, the title words above (from verse 3 of ‘As the Deer’ -Psalm 42- by Martin Nystrom) have been a reminder to me of Jesus’ preparation of His disciples for His approaching departure, as recorded in John chapter 15. There we read that Jesus reassured them of His love and promised that they would be filled with His joy, even though He would no longer be with them. But, to ensure they got the message they could not fully understand, Jesus repeated it: “Yes, your joy will overflow!” (Verse 11.)
There is only one ‘real joy-giver’ – The Lord Jesus Christ. Happiness is not in the same dimension. It is ephemeral – brief, changing with circumstances. In contrast, joy is an experience we choose! At a seminar, a woman told the presenter: “I never realized that I don’t have to be happy to be joyful!” A children’s chorus of the past explains it like this: ‘Happiness happens, but joy abides, in the heart that belongs to Jesus!”
Long ago, when Christians in Rome were led into the Colosseum to face the ravenous lions, their joy-filled eyes looked beyond the present to the eternal. It is equally true of the many martyrs today, suffering torture and death for Christ in many parts of the world. Hebrews chapter 11 with its list of godly men and women who suffered for their faith, concludes with the statement (v. 39 & 40) that they have yet to receive their reward. They are waiting until ALL followers of Christ (including this and succeeding generations) have finished our race of life and receive our reward.
“You and I were created for joy, and if we miss it, we miss the reason for our existence … If our joy is honest joy, however, it must somehow be congruous with human tragedy. This is the test of joy’s integrity; is it compatible with pain? Only the heart that hurts has a right to joy.” (Lewis Smedes quoted by Tim Hansel in “The Hidden Adventure”) The Apostle Paul, writing from a Roman Jail, told the Philippians: “Whatever happens, dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give you joy!” (Ch.3: 1 NLT)
“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
JESUS: THE REAL JOY-GIVER!