"I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart! Where?"
"The joy of the Lord is my strength!!" Clap Clap
"This is the day! This is the day that the Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad in it!"
Can you hear the bouncy tunes in your mind? Do they conjure up memories of Sunday School days gone by? Do they remind you of a simpler, easier, happier time of your life?
It's hard to hum these songs when your heart is heavy with loss. Singing about joy seems impossible when misery is your closest companion. How do you rejoice in a day that is filled with monotony and stress?
Joy? Cheer? Delight? Surely these proclamations must only be for children or those adults with extremely easy (and wealthy) lives. Yet we can't escape the extremely straightforward commands in Scripture to rejoice and to do it always! (Phil. 4:4)
Could it be that joy is more than a reaction to the circumstances surrounding us on a given day or season? Could it be that joy might be an act of faith?
A simple online search returns dozens of verses including the seemingly contradictory words: joy and suffering. At first glance, it makes no sense. If my son cuts his finger and runs to me, bleeding, I offer comfort and a bandaid. I don't encourage him to rejoice in his pain - to realize that something good will come from the slice in his thumb.
We can't overlook the fact, however, that in this silly illustration, my son ran to me. His faith in my mothering skills gave him the confidence to give me his problem and to let me care for him. His heart found joy in the capability of his mother.
The bridge between suffering and rejoicing has to be faith. Our joy remains constant, not because of what each day holds, but because of our trust in the One who holds our days.
The joy of the Lord is my strength. Faith in His sovereignty, His holiness, His power, His compassion - faith in His character not mine - will result in a joy that testifies to those around me that I trust in something bigger than my circumstances.
True joy without faith in the Giver of everything good is virtually impossible.
I am both convicted and comforted by the words of the Puritan minister, Samuel Ward in Sermons,
Live by faith. Rejoice through faith in the Lord. It is the neglect of this exercise that will allow discouragement to erupt, and Satan to interrupt your happiness and spiritual cheerfulness. It will cast you in to the dumps and into mourning......Keep your faith, and it will keep your joy.....Show me your faith by your joy. Use your faith, and have joy; increase your faith and increase your joy.