Written by Juan Dugan, D.Min. – Worship Leader
Joy is a tricky thing. We often hear it described as happiness or a positive outlook, but for anyone who has ever felt joyous, we know it’s more than that. There is that mysterious something contained within joy that makes it so difficult to accept when it is lost and even harder to recover. It’s no wonder that so many of us who have ever lost our joy find refuge in habitual melancholy, that acceptance of loss in which we assume joy was simply a rush of emotions that passed over time or perhaps even the folly of youth displaced by the progress of age. This, of course, is nothing short of a lie, a bit of self-deception designed to help us cope with our inability to find that joyous part of our spirit.
For Christians, those of us who have experienced the love of Christ, we have knowledge of true joy. We have encountered that inexplicable love that was shown when the Son of God who formed creation gave his life to save our souls! When we find ourselves without joy, it is always because we have distanced ourselves from Christ’s love. We have allowed this world to distract us with either the troubles of life or the enticement of sin. Whatever the cause, we have allowed ourselves to live in the darkness of the world, trying to carry on in our own power. Joy is not something we can find in ourselves or within the world around us, it is only found in Christ.
“Go ye, who crave for joy, and traverse the wide world round in the vain search for it, my soul shall sit down at the foot of the cross, and say, ‘I have found it here!’ Go ye, like the swallows that cross the purple seas to find another summer, now that your’s is over: but my soul shall abide where it is, and find no chilling winter here joys to mar. At the cross, our sun is at its solstice, and stands still for ever, never moving, without parallax, or shadows of a tropic: ever the same, bright, full, and glorious.” – Charles Spurgeon, How to Become Joyful
In order to recover joy in our lives, we must start by restoring our fellowship with God. The Apostle John tells us that our relationship with Christ is the foundation of joy:
I John 1
“4 … we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
5 Now this is the gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
6 If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.”
Thankfully, the holiday season provides us the time to reflect and examine our lives. As we enter the third week of Advent, it is time that we all recover our joy! It’s time to let go of that melancholy spirit, embrace the love of Christ, and realize that the only thing standing between us and a joyous spirit is the distance we place between ourselves and God. We find our joy when we immerse ourselves in the word of God, seek the comfort of fellowship with other believers, and share the love of Christ with others. This week, try to live out John’s words; leave sin, doubt, and all the distractions of this world behind, and find refuge in the joyous love of Christ!