“The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
“My brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord!
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I will say it again: Rejoice!”
This past Sunday I spoke at Trinity CRC about joy, how it is a gift from God and a spiritual discipline God’s Spirit prompts His people to grow within themselves as individuals and in community with one another. I quoted a couple helpful resources on the subject and share them here too.
We will not understand God until we understand this about Him: God is the happiest being in the universe. Yes, God also knows sorrow. Jesus is remembered, among other things, as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” But the sorrow of God, like the anger of God, is His temporary response to a fallen world. That sorrow will be banished forever from His heart on the day the world is set right. Joy is God’s basic character. Joy is His eternal destiny. God is the happiest being in the universe. And God’s intent is that His creation mirrors His joy.
– John Ortberg in The Life You’ve Always Wanted
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[Experiencing joy] does not depend on perfect circumstances or happy feelings. Even in prison, Paul and Silas found something to sing about. And Jeremiah, the weeping prophet … found reason to delight and hope in God even in a lament.
The world is filled with reasons to be downcast. But deeper than sorrow thrums the unbroken pulse of God’s joy, a joy that will yet have its eternal day… Every small experience of Jesus with us is a taste of the joy that is to come. God has not left us alone – and that in itself is reason to celebrate.
– Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
Remembering and living into this reality grows God’s joy within us. . Finding and imitating “joy mentors” help us practice joy in community. Identifying people or things (TV or social media, perhaps?) that tend to suck the joy out of us can help us guard our hearts and respond well even when we can’t avoid them. And thanking God daily for at least one thing teaches us to keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to His presence and provision which form the perfect foundation for joy.