Joy. We all want it. We look for it in restful hammocks anchored securely in the shade, through airplane windows flying to exotic vacation destinations, with activities that sweat toxins from our systems, amid novel pages penned by our favorite authors, and by accomplishment of goals we’ve set for ourselves. These moments that replenish us can buoy us temporarily, but the psalmist points out ways to find lasting joy.
1. We experience joy when we choose to trust God. Trusting God destroys the hold of the devourer. When we believe God has our lives well in hand, we can let go of the uncertainty of “what if” and the stress of presupposition. Joy leaks out of our lives when we begin imagining the worst in unknown situations. “The worst” doesn’t include God in it. Sure, bad things will happen, but when we are confident that God is in control, we can be at peace. God always provides supernatural strength for situations we’ve trusted Him in. This is cause for joy. Outcomes just aren’t the same if God is in them.
In fact, the fears our imaginations conjure up are likely experiences we will never endure. Failing to trust God leads to these thoughts that exclude God, which, in turn, make us depressed, not joyful. Trusting God ensures that we will have grace for whatever we need when the time comes and eliminates the unnecessary pain we cause ourselves by living without that grace to cover our self-inflicted worry.
2.We have joy when we see what God has already done and what He presently is doing. How many things HAVE NOT gone wrong that could have? What diseases have been avoided? What accidents and mishaps did we dodge? What financial losses have we failed to experience? Many of our blessings are in the NOTS. Things that we have not had to endure, things that the angel of the Lord protected us from and prevented from coming our way. What a reason to rejoice! What the enemy has planned DID NOT come to pass.
3.We are filled with joy when we have relationship with God. Our God lets us know Him. BY NAME. He’s personal. Briefly contemplating the vastness of His created works magnifies the wonder of His willingness to be in relationship with us. Faltering, failing, frail us. He enables us to be in right standing with the Holy, makes us righteous by giving us HIS righteousness. Then, He treats us as if we had somehow arrived at that state of worth on our own. He blesses the righteous (who were made righteous by HIM) and surrounds him with favor—pleasure, delight, goodwill, acceptance—a favor so thick it is like a shield that is impenetrable by the adversary.
The three of these work hand in hand. When we see what God has done, we trust Him. When we trust Him, we grow to know Him more. When our relationship deepens, we trust Him greater. And thus the cycle…and the blessing of it…continues, thereby perpetuating and increasing our joy.
Tip/Tidbit: Where can you start in your joy journey? How about making a list of things you’re grateful God has already done, or a list of things you’re glad He didn’t permit? What steps can you take to know Him more? What anxieties can you release in order to trust Him more?
Romans 15:13 “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”