by: FCC Staff
The biblical concept of joy transcends the realm of mere happiness, an emotional state that can as often as not come from appreciation for circumstances we like. We’re happy when we sing our favorite song, happy when we get our Starbucks order, happy when our kids get along or happy when payday finally rolls around.
Joy, is rooted in hope. Joy doesn’t evaporate when life isn’t going ‘our way’ or we are not experiencing the things we like. Joy can be present even in the midst of great pain and heartache. Not just a glib attitude of ‘this is fine’ or platitudes we comfort ourselves with when things don’t seem to make sense or challenge us. Biblical Joy is rooted in the unchanging and everlasting love that God has for us, the peace of knowing we are His, and the hope that everything, in the end, will work out in the Kingdom of Heaven.
One of the great examples of this in scripture is Job. He literally had all the worst things in life happen to him, by no fault of his own, to prove that a righteous man will chose to stick with God and trust his promises all in the face of adversity. In the midst of these trials Job isn’t happy, like at all. His friends seem to think he is suffering because he has some secret sin he’s offended God with. Good things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people. Job stood firm however; I’m telling you I’m innocent!
But line by line, chapter by chapter his “friends” try and convince him, no Job you have offended God somehow, this is the only answer. Job doesn’t hold back in his complaints, his lamentations, his expressions of frustration at the suffering he is enduring. We are told however, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” He tenaciously held on to the belief that God is good, just and fair, even when he could see no good, justice or fairness in what was happening to him. And in the midst of this Job offers of a beautiful expression of Joy:
“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!”
Job lived long, long before the time of Jesus. Even most of the prophets, some scholars even believe before Moses and God’s covenant with Israel. Yet somehow, he KNEW with absolute certainty a redeemer was coming, a savior, in some translations it’s a ‘vindicator’ someone was coming who would make everything right. He knew with a certainty that he would die, but that he would be resurrected, and see God with his own eyes. This promise was for him, he was absolutely sure, not just some future generation. His heart was faint with this expectation. His deepest longing, in the midst of all he had to endure, was to see God.
This is what true biblical Joy offers us. And as our proverb tells us today, a ‘A joyful heart is good medicine.’ This isn’t just a positive mental attitude, this is a heart that knows it belongs to God and anticipates a fully restored relationship with him in the future.
The opposite, our proverb tells us is a “crushed spirit” This isn’t sadness, or sorrow. There are things in life that are sad and should evoke sadness in our Christ-like hearts. Jesus wept. (John 11:35) There’s and entire book of the Bible called “Lamentations” and even some of the psalms express a lot more sadness then they do happiness. A crushed spirit is one caught in despair. Allowing ourselves to believe that God is not just, is not, fair, has abandoned us or now hates us, despite all the promises of scripture that assure us this is never the case.
Not that we can’t lament when things are truly unjust in our lives, or like the psalmist ask,
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?”
We see the psalmist expressing this frustration, but just a few short verses later declare:
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
(Psalms 13:1, 5-6)
So today, let’s choose to let Joy guide our hearts, and resist the temptation to allow despair to crush our spirits. We serve an amazing, powerful, loving and just God, and even when we cannot see the way or know His will… we too, like Job, can say, , “I know my Redeemer lives.”
Prayer for Today
Father, create a new heart in me and renew my spirit with your Joy. Jesus, show me how to trust in your father, even when things seem bleak or hopeless. Send your Holy Spirit to comfort me, so that I can be assured of your love for me, and joyfully sing your praises, come what may. Amen.