Leon Bloy once said that "Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God." Or, looking at it from the other end: "The opposite of joy in not sorrow. It is unbelief." (Leslie Weatherhead). Incidentally, these two quotes were part of two unrelated devotions I read recently, one in the morning and one at night of the same day. Do you think God is trying to tell me something?
When I did a bit of Bible research for my last blog Gentle and Wise, I came across Ecclesiastes 3:25 NIV: "For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight." At the time, I was after "wisdom" and "knowledge" and completely swept "joy" under the rug. Now God makes me dig it back out.
Don't ever make the mistake of typing the word "joy" into the search engine of a biblical website. It is like looking up Mr. Smith in a phone book. The Bible is full of joy. We are supposed to dance for joy, shout for joy, sing for joy. And what are we supposed to be so blissfully joyful about? The mere fact that God loves us, God forgives us, God gave us His son to build a bridge for us, and God will grant us eternal life; and all we have to do is to love Him back and obey His word. Now we all know that obeying His word is not as easy as it sounds, and earthly life is not always a bed or roses, but that should never ever dim our delight!
Why do some Christians seem so miserable? Or, closer to home, why am I such a sourpuss half the time? What reasons do I possibly have for the frown on my face and the anger in my heart?
I used to worry about my children so much that it practically robbed me of my happiness as a mother. My very first blogs were all about seeing my children through God's eyes, not through the eyes of the world around them. Mercifully, God has over the years calmed my fears and replaced them with trust in His plan.
So now I fret over money. I am not worried about running out of money, I just so dislike spending it. Every bill I pay causes me physical pain, especially the unexpected ones.
Having said that, you will not believe the luck I have been having lately! It all started as soon as I identified bills as my currently predominant joy-killer: a raccoon shredded my deck cushions which now work nicely with the holes a squirrel nibbled in my deck chairs. My roof was leaking, dripping water into my bedroom and family-room. At the same time, quite ironically, my well pump broke: dry pipes, no kidding! And those are just the large-ticket items. Add the lost car keys that need to be replaced and a fender bender we need to pay for (we did all the bending). Oh, and did I mention medical mishaps, one per child, all requiring costly visits to the emergency room? Call me dense, but when I stood in that shower and the water stopped coming, I was SURE God was telling me something:
"But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You." (Psalm 5:11,12 NKJ).
Nowhere does it say "Rejoice in your God, provided your life is running smoothly." And believe me: "Once you have dealt with life's worries, find joy in the Lord." is NOT a biblical quote!
Instead, you will find passages such as "Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full". (John 16:24 NKJ), or "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy remain in you and that your joy may be full." (John 15:11 NKJ).
If I have a frown on my face, it is because I have put it there. All God wants me to do is to wipe it off and let His smile shine through. Because, ultimately, He will only calm the storm if I have the faith and trust that He can - and that He will, in His own time!
So I pay my bills joyfully, counting my heavenly blessings as I write my earthly checks.
it took me years to let go of my worry concerning my boys. It only took me a couple of weeks to let go of my worry concerning my finances. I am learning, and I am praising you for it!
"Now may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing that I may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."(Romans 15:13).
I love you so.