When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:1-2
Jesus came to show me what God was like. That He came is a miracle. That He would leave heaven so I would know His Father is a miracle. That He would die in order to show me the vastness of His Father’s love is a miracle. That He would be so radical as to forgive all my sins and never bring them up again is a miracle. That I would have nothing to feel guilty about is a miracle. That I could dare go behind the veil and approach God intimately is a miracle. There are enough grounds here to rejoice all day, every day, no matter how well or poorly my day is going. King David only dreamt of such intimacy with God but in spite of that, he knew laughter and joy.
Yet, I’ve lived much of my life without joy. What has been the problem? I have found, for me, that no joy means one of two things, and how I wish someone had told me this thirty years ago.
1.) I have not allowed the truth of God to impact my heart. Symptoms? I know a lot but feel little. I can pick apart doctrinal stands on issues but never let the truth of them affect me. I can preach humility but be arrogant. This is the fruit of study without meditation; about knowledge void of experience. The cure? I come to God everyday with the Word in my hand and ask Him to awaken my heart to the message. “Search my heart, do surgery on my heart if necessary and let me feel what You feel, Lord, about this passage.” This begins a transformation that, over time, produces joy!
2.) I believe things about God that aren’t true that block joy. I can be full of contradictions. I say that I believe Jesus came to save sinners but then I have trouble admitting that I am one. I can easily give testimony that God is love but privately believe that He is punishing me when things go wrong. I must ask God to make me self-aware, in touch with my emotions. When I feel helpless, what do I believe that is causing me to feel helpless? Therein lies the lie. When misjudged and feeling outrage, what lie do I believe about God’s justice and His sovereign rule? I must name it before I can know freedom. I must hold up my emotions, the beliefs behind them, to the truth of God’s Word. My beliefs, and the feelings which mask them, must be subject to Truth, always.
Joy begins when I know the truth. Joy begins when I feel the truth. Joy begins when I am delivered from misjudgments about God. Joy begins when my heart of stone is touched by King Jesus and begins to beat hard with passionate responses to His glory. I was made to feel joyful about God, not a shortsighted kind of joy that is dependent upon in my circumstances.
Some who have been martyred walked to their death singing. Help me know what they knew. In Jesus name, Amen