May 10, 2022
Recently, I found myself deeply engaged in an unexpected conversation with a fellow believer. Between narratives of family histories, work experiences and personal achievements, the conversation somehow kept circling back to the challenge of pressing through the lingering pain from experiences such as abandonment, disappointment, failure and rejection, and finding a way to become emotionally healthy. By the time our conversation was over, I couldn’t help but wonder, “where is the joy of our salvation?”
The Bible presents joy, like love, as one of the distinctive marks of a Christian. But the joy it presents is not the ubiquitous glee we see in selfies, some high brought on by an event, or living in a state of perpetual elation that denies life’s tough realities. It is something much deeper. It is an unfailing and abiding satisfaction rooted in our knowledge of God and it exists independent of our circumstances. In fact, when we experience trials, we can rejoice because of the character-building that they accomplish in us (Jas. 1:2-3). We rejoice even in suffering because we know that ultimately, like Christ, we will overcome (Rom. 8:37).
So, this all sounds good, but how to we “get” joy?
The joy of the believer, like all spiritual blessings, comes through faith. It is a fruit of living in the spirit (Gal 5:22). If we really believe that Jesus is who he says and we live in light of eternity, setting our eyes and hope on that which is above rather than earthly things, we will experience the joy of our salvation. But if we order our lives by the world’s standards and are fixated on earthly things, we will inevitably see our joy sag because there is much in this life that can discourage us. We will find ourselves chasing the next high, bored, tired, sighing, struggling with the same challenges for years, worrying about the same things non-believers worry about, and asking, “is this it?”
The joy that comes from believing allows us to approach each day with a sense of purpose. It allows us to live focused and productive lives, knowing that we are only here temporarily and everything is done for the glory of God. We can get the kids ready for school with joy. We can sit in traffic with joy. We can sit at our work desk for hours on end with joy. We are able to push through setbacks and disappointments because we believe that God, our Father, is still in control and there is joy in knowing that he has the last word. Joy energizes us for productive living.
If you are lacking that deep abiding joy, check your faith. What do you believe? What are your life’s priorities? In whom do you believe? Is your hope really in God?
“Why so downcast my soul? Put your hope in God.” Ps. 43:5