Webster refers to it as having ‘great pleasure or happiness; delight.’ The apostle Paul charges us to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’ (Php 4:4). Then he repeats himself: ‘I will say it again: Rejoice!’ James urges us to have joy, and so does Peter, John and Jude. In the gospels, Jesus repeatedly talks about joy. One cursory survey found nearly 120 references to it in the Old Testament. Joy is biblical. It is wonderful. Our mighty God has it. He wants us to enter in to it.
And yet, too many of us act as if we cut those portions of the Scriptures out and tossed them aside. Surely we must have. Otherwise we would have, well, joy.
One can almost hear the censure: Don’t be so naïve, Matthew . . . you don’t know my misery! Do you think that the folk mentioned above didn’t understand hardship and pain? Did they not know well those things that could so easily rob life of ‘great pleasure or happiness or delight’? Sure they did! Indeed, the writer of Hebrews even tells that Jesus had joy about going to the cross (Heb 12:2).
‘Of course, He’s Jesus,’ one might say. But Paul had joy in prison. John had joy while in exile. And so it goes. Please mark this: joy is the certainty of captivating and liberating delight that one has upon recognizing the total sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Therein is the difference for those whose pain ought to suggest misery of soul instead of glee. The pains of life do not disappear. The obstacles we daily face do not flee. The crises still come. But God Almighty is sufficient in all of these things. Please—read the italicized words again and again.
Now ask yourself if the truth of that statement characterizes you. If it doesn’t then you should discern whether or not you believe Jesus Christ to be totally sufficient for you. If you think He is not, then I urge you to right now bow before Him and ask Him to forgive you and reinvigorate you with His perspective on your life.
On the other hand, if you think the statement above does characterize you then live it! Please! Enough of sour Christians with long faces and furrowed brows and minds that ache with the intense drumming of their own stodgy, hand wringing anxieties. Rejoice in the Lord—always—and again, rejoice! After all . . .
. . . we belong to Jesus! (You can shout it loudly if you’d like).