Monday, May 19, 2014

The Gift of Joy

I'm drinking my coffee this morning out of a large mug given to me by Mom for Christmas. It is lovely, with a baby cardinal on it and a snow scene. Don't ask why there's a baby bird during the winter! That's not the point. The saying on it is, "The smallest wonders often bring the greatest JOYS."

That got me thinking about the joy that comes from the Lord. We know that joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit, which means it comes from God, the Spirit. One of the definitions of joy on is, "source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated..."

I wanted the definitions to include something about a deep down happiness that is much more than happiness. I wanted it to say that happiness is caused by externals, like getting a new sofa, a new job, a new home. Or an ice cream cone. But that joy is deep down inside, even when we aren't exceptionally happy or maybe even down right sad. Because, that's what joy means to me. That's how it was for me, even when my first husband of 28 years died.

That kind of deep down joy is a gift we are given as we walk this journey of faith. "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Jesus said that in John 16:33 but he prefaced it with, "I have told you these things (the things just prior to this verse), so that you may have peace (insert joy) IN ME. In this world you will have trouble..."

That makes me sigh and take a deep breath. It makes me joyful deep down in my being. I don't want to have trouble. Or suffering (NET version) but when I do - because I'm in the world - He wants me to have peace IN HIM because He has overcome the world. And He wants that for you, too.

In Habakkuk, the prophet was writing about a harsh judgement that was coming on Israel and he thought it wasn't fair. He had a debate with God and guess who wins. After God speaks, Habakkuk decides to trust in the Lord. He ends in Chapter 3 with:

"...I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength..."  Hab. 3:18 NIV

The text note of my Kindle NET Bible says of this passage, "Difficult times are coming, but Habakkuk is confident the LORD will sustain him. Habakkuk will be able to survive..."

I love that joy, the joy that comes from trust in the Lord. I don't always trust Him and lean on Him completely. And it's those times that I fear and worry - and don't have joy.  But when I can move back toward the Lord, knowing full well that troubles will come, and still take courage because He has overcome the world, that deep-down sense of well-being, peace, yes, joy, returns. I want to abide in that joy. I want to trust Him more!

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