“When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul.” Psalm 94:19
Joy Rules or Joy Reigns?
I mentioned to my husband that I was sorry I missed a radio program this morning on “Joy Rules.” My husband responded, “Does that mean ‘joy reigns,’ or ‘the rules to have joy are: #1, #2, #3?’” I smiled and answered, “Well, I’ll listen on the computer, and let you know.” I have since been pondering his comedic comment.
Looking back over our lives, we know that God orchestrated millions of situations, circumstances, and relationships to bring us to where we are today. We find joy by living through every trial God has allowed not by escaping them. Perhaps you are facing a season of dark depression, or serious regrets, or guilt that you can’t seem to get past. You may be concerned about a wayward, confused child, a child in deep depression, or one who has abandoned or is questioning their faith. Perhaps your marriage is not what you anticipated, and you find yourself unhappily married or unhappily single. Perhaps you are bereaved of your husband.
We don’t know how much pain and disappointment we will face, but this much we know: we don’t escape trials and hardships. We don’t understand why life has been rolled out before us as it has, but we do understand that God is in control and we are held in the power of His love.
James 1:2, 3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and my sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance…”
The apostle Paul endured much pain and suffering yet attributes his hardships to being a part of God’s plan (2 Corinthians 6:3-10). Paul felt that because his trials were real and painful, they proved that the joy of the Lord is more real and undeniable (also seen in his joyful prison songs). The enemy can torture our physical bodies, but no one can take our joy from us. Joy can be temporarily suppressed by sorrow, trauma, or circumstance, but it is still alive and well deep within our hearts because the joy of the Lord cannot be extinguished.
As a child, I used to sing, “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, (where?) down in my heart, (where?), down in my heart, I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart to stay. And I’m so happy, so very happy, I have the love of Jesus in my heart, and I’m so happy, so very happy, I have the love of Jesus in my heart.”*
“Lord Jesus, anticipating unending joy in Your presence changes everything. Joy in Your presence offers us a taste of indescribable eternal joy (Psalm 16:11).
It means we can relinquish control of our lives over to You, having no fear of the future. Amen.”
*George William Cooke, copyright 1925