The Sweet Fruit of Joy
by Impact Church
“Thou wilt show me the path of life. In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11
In our give-it-to-me-now culture, the pursuit of happiness is fickle and fleeting. If the job you have now isn’t working for you, start trolling for new opportunities on the Internet. If you aren’t satisfied with how you look, try the latest diet that’s sweeping the country or, better yet, look into a nip-and-tuck procedure. If you don’t like your spouse anymore, you don’t even have to take responsibility for breaking your vows. Just file for a no-fault divorce.
Why not? Everyone deserves the right to be happy, don’t they? Well, you may want to sit down for this.
It may surprise you to learn that the Creator God of the Bible, who loves you and cares for your eternal well-being more than you can imagine, really doesn’t care that much about your temporal, day-to-day happiness. In fact, He may have even orchestrated events to bring you to the desert place where you are right now. He is much more concerned with your inner self, your spiritual growth as you are transformed into the image of His Son. This is the same loving Father who allowed His one and only Son to be tortured and killed for our sakes. Why? So we might live in a bigger house or drive a newer car? Surely we are not that materialistic and shallow in our theology.
In Jesus’ last conversation with His disciples before His crucifixion, He declared that He had taught them of His Father’s kingdom “that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). Here was the Son of Man just hours away from a grueling death talking about His joy! And He’s addressing a group of men who would be cruelly slain, decapitated, exiled and the like about the fullness of their joy!
Obviously, Jesus’ definition of joy was not what most of us would consider happiness. You’ve seen posters that read something like this: “Happiness is __________” with warm, fuzzy answers like “a puppy.” Pardon the bluntness, but let us know how that puppy is working for you when a bloodthirsty mob is ready to boil you in oil.
Our entertainment-crazed society — and, indeed, its far-too-worldly church — grabs all too frequently for the low-hanging fruit of what makes us feel better for the moment. What we need is the sweet fruit of abiding joy in the midst of adverse circumstances, and that fruit can come only from the Joy-Giver Himself, Jesus Christ! The contentment of an intimate relationship with the God of the Universe must have been what Nehemiah had in mind when he said “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
You see, in order for Christ’s joy to remain in us and give us strength, we must learn to abide in His love. David, a man who faced mortal threats from ravenous bears, jealous kings and even a power-hungry son, wrote in the Psalm above that only in God’s presence could he find fullness of joy.
But, you may say, you don’t understand my situation. My marriage is falling apart, my bank account has only one 0 in it, I’m in a dead-end job that I despise and my dog has fleas. Complete joy? Abiding in God’s presence? I haven’t even felt Him in weeks, maybe months. It’s like I can’t find Him anywhere.
Dear friend, the all-knowing Savior will meet you at the mundane, day-in-day-out well of your circumstances just as He did the Samaritan woman in John 4. And He will whisper the same gentle truth that He did on that day: Open your heart and your mouth and start worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth,…and He will find you. He loves to be adored. He is seeking such worshippers.
So whatever place and circumstance you find yourself in today, take solace in knowing that unspeakable joy can be yours. Right now. Right where you are. Just get in His presence. And if you can’t find Him, start singing His praises. Even as He did for Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail in Acts 16, God will show up in your darkest hour!