Search deep into our hearts and we will find a desire for joy. Advertisers know it and expertly exploit it. Whatever we do, we ultimately seek satisfaction, pleasure, and happiness.
God has created us for joy; He doesn’t create anyone for misery. If God has made us for joy, then we need to understand what true joy really is. How we can fully enjoy and appreciate something which we do not understand?
Joy is part of God’s original design for us from the start. The earthly home He gave to Adam and Eve was a garden.
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it (Gen 2:15).”
God Himself walked there in the garden in the cool of day (cf. Gen 3:8). Creator and creatures communed together in the garden He has made. This must have been such a joyful fellowship!
Even though Eden was lost to us, God still has lovingly provided for our enjoyment the good things He has made.
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (1Ti 6:17).”
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (Jas 1:17).”
God has designed ours to be a life of joy. He has provided what we need to live in joy. There is another important fact about true joy that we must realise if we are to be joyful Christians.
When Asaph was almost driven to despair by how the wicked seemingly prospered, he readjusted his focus and declared:
“Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever…it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works (Psa 73:23-27).”
Another psalmist reminded himself in downtimes:
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God (Psa 43:5).”
We see then that according to God’s original design, true joy is inseparable from Himself. God is the Source of joy in its purest sense. Sin separates us from the joy of God and exposes us to eternal damnation (cf. John 3:16-21; Rom 1:18-2:16; Rev 22:11-15).
Man has lost the joy God has bestowed him by foolishly turning away from God. When we look around us at this world—with its misery and meaninglessness—we are looking at the result of man’s rejection of true joy.
Man has since been trying to be his own provider, seeking desperately to satisfy the longing for joy but finding himself only drifting further away from the joy which seems so elusive.
When Christ redeemed us and gave us life in Him, He reversed damnation and sin (cf. Rom 5:12-19). The goodness of God is further evidence that God intends joy for us and through His goodness He calls us to respond to His Gospel.
“Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17).”
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance (Rom 2:4)?”
The Gospel of Christ proclaiming deliverance from sin is the invitation to enter the joy God has prepared for mankind.
Through the plan of salvation God has restored and fulfilled His original intention of joy for us. True joy for the human soul is to be rightly related to God in Jesus Christ.
Joy is not measured by the material possessions we have or the level of success we attain in this world. Joy is the inevitable result of throwing ourselves upon the love of God, trusting in Him whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.
The Gospel is for all. Every man and woman must make the choice between Christ and self, between true joy and eternal misery. If by choosing to sin we miss the joy God has meant for us, the fault will all be ours.
The apostle says, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom 14:17).”
A faith without joy is a contradiction to what the New Testament reveals. The joyful Christianity we read about in the NT turned the world upside down.
May the Lord revive true joy in His church today that we may once more turn this world upside down for His glory.