Joy All the Time

Written By: Chris Mace

Sunset, Sorrento, Maine
We all experience brief times when words cannot do justice to what we internally experience. A breathtaking mountain summit vista, the monotonous crashing of surf, a whip-o-will’s twilight call, a warm fire shared with a friend or book, a beautiful symphony, the weird laughter of loons echoing through a still, dark night, or an awesome sunset may evoke a surprising, unexplained, physical sensation springing from a deep inner sense of “beyondness.”

In those moments we become aware that life is sacred, that our comos is ordered and filled with meaning. Our spirits touch something beyond ourselves, something grander and more magnificent, something beyond awe, something longed for and meaningful but beyond explanation-a taste of joy.

In our search for “beyondness”, we may find ourselves stuck in a desperate, dysfunctional, misguided pursuit of a happiness which eludes us. We struggle for wealth or power, prestige, and status thinking that they will fulfill us. As we search, we may even break moral codes or find ourselves facing addictions or the depressing disappointment of meaningless achievements.

Although impossible to define and difficult to describe, joy is deeper, stronger, and more persistent than happiness, which is fragile, brief and situational. Joy isn’t lessened by adversity because it rests in meaning and purpose not circumstances. In Scripture it is best defined by a relationship with God, Nehemiah reminded a suffering Jewish nation that “The Joy of the lord is your strength.” (Ne 8:10)

Jesus lived and taught that. Despite what it cost him, Christ joyfully endured the cross because he loved us and lived within the will and plan of His heavenly Father. (Hebrews 12:2). He came to repair human brokenness, to reconcile mankind to God, and to restore our joy. He showed us that joy is found in loving relationships: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:9-12

The Apostle Paul’s life exemplified that joy which is very evident in his letter written to the Philippians from his prison cell. He found God’s grace sufficient and cause for continuous gratitude. The present day Persecuted Church demonstrates that as well as it fully embraces a joyful faith despite mistreatment, ostracization, and even torture.

The fullness of joy, the subtle, persistent background against which life can be lived with hope, is not the result of cause and effect but is sourced in love. Jesus, whose birth was announced with the fact that he would bring joy to all people, is evidence that God loves us and gives us peace, contentment, wonder, assurance, gratitude, and a place within His kingdom.

You make known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence. (Psalm 16:11)


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