Discover The True Source Of Joy
He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you in His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17, NKJV
“Joy,” wrote G.K. Chesterton, “is the gigantic secret of the Christian.” Yet to many it appears to be such a well-kept secret that they never fully discover what it all is.
How many people do you know who are known for their joyfulness? The German philosopher, Fredrich Nietzsche, noted the lack of joy in the lives of many who call themselves Christians. He wrote, “I would believe in their salvation if they looked a little more like people who have been saved.” Yet Nietzsche’s death as an agnostic in a mental institution does not have much to recommend his belief system.
Unquestionably, whether you have it or not, joy is distinctly a Christian virtue stemming from new life within, life which has its source in God. While some folks think of God as a cosmic icicle somewhere out there, the Bible pictures God as the source and fount of real joy. The Old Testament speaks of God saying, “He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you in His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, NKJV). Jesus said that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God when a sinner repents.
It is not surprising to me that something so valuable and so esteemed should have its counterfeit. Quite often people who are sincere in their search for joy, settle for less than the real thing. In our attempt to find joy we get sidetracked, thinking, “If I just had [and you fill in the blank], then I would be satisfied.”
It doesn’t work, because happiness in life is largely dependent on circumstances–what you have. But joy is an enduring quality of your life regardless of what you have or don’t have, regardless of the circumstances that surround your existence.
Take Paul, for example, who was imprisoned in Philippi. Having been beaten and thrust into the stocks, he could sing until the midnight hour. Was he happy? No! Could he yet have joy in his heart? Yes!
“Pleasure,” says Dr. Vernon Grounds, “is the feeling of delight we derive from the stimulation of our senses.” While there is nothing wrong with pleasure, which results in a measure of happiness, there comes a time when its satisfaction is exhausted; but beyond that, joy endures and remains.
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a physician who devoted many years to the study of the experiences of the dying, said, “It’s very interesting when you look back at hundreds of dying patients, young and old. Not one of them has ever told me how many houses she had or how many handbags or sable coats. What they tell you are very tiny, almost insignificant moments in their lives where they went fishing with a child, or a mountain climbing expedition in Switzerland, some brief moments of privacy in an interpersonal relationship…these are the things that keep people going at the end….”
What Dr. Kubler-Ross said really bears out the words of Jesus, who said, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full” (John 15:10-11).
Would you like to have a real measure of joy in your life? Then let God’s presence and the fruit of His Holy Spirit fill your heart and life. It’s the only way!
Resource reading: Acts 16:16-40