Where is the Joy?

by Andy Wood on October 14, 2011

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, Love, LV Cycle, Photos, Principle of Abundance

This just in:  God wants your joy to be full.

I know, I know!  It shocked me, too!

I was having coffee with a friend a few years ago and he mentioned a quote from Jesus:  “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full” (John 16:24).

“God wants your joy to be full,” my friend said prophetically.  That resonated with me.  Deeply.

“I’ve had many joyful moments,” I confessed, “but I can’t tell you when the last time was I had joy on that level.”

How about you?  When was the last time you experienced a joy so deep you could barely contain it?

I’m talking about something that Nehemiah says is your strength – this joy of the Lord.  It’s the result of a supernatural exchange, according to Isaiah’s prophecy.  The Spirit of God anointed Jesus to exchange your mourning and ashes for beauty and joy.  Jesus later told his disciples that they would mourn at his death, but that their mourning would be turned to joy when they saw him again.  And, as they asked in his name, they would receive, and their joy would be full.

So… just to make this clear… this fullness of joy that God wants you to have was purchased for you with the blood of His Son.

It all appears rather normal, this joy, when you read different parts of the Bible.  It’s certainly the birthright of every believer and one of the evidences of a Spirit-filled life.

Fullness.

Joy.

And it isn’t even Christmas!

Aren’t you tired of a lifeless religion packed to the gills with instructions, but no delight?  Aren’t you weary of telling people you’re “fine” when you’re really just aching behind the faking?  Aren’t you ready to let go of that cynical, jealous belief that everybody else in the world is probably as miserable as you are?

Are you ready for the Spirit to deploy some joy?  Well, let’s start with what you probably already know – Joy isn’t found in the circumstances.  It is too life-driven for that.  That said, joy is the result of what some circumstances offer to deliver to you.

If you’ve lost the joy that is your strength and privilege as a believer in Jesus, here are some places you can find it again:

In the Birth of a New Life

Had any babies lately?  Or been close to somebody who did?  There’s a phenomenal amount of joy in that, for good reason.  You are witnessing the entry of a new life where there once was no life at all.

Same goes even more when people are born again through faith in Jesus.  He described the heart-skipping, angel-dancing celebration that takes place in heaven when one sinner turns to God.  Why?  Because someone who is dead is being born to a new, eternal life.

That even works for weddings.  True confession:  I had performed over 100 wedding ceremonies before it dawned on me what all the fuss was about.  Before then weddings (other than my own, of course) were the devil’s intrusion on God’s plan for marriage.  But one night I sat by myself in a worship center and witnessed the birth of a new home right before my eyes.  That night I finally got it.  I felt joy at what I was witnessing.  And I quit griping about weddings.  Well, most of the time.

In the Resurrection of a Dead Relationship

One day.  Two days.  Three days of utter devastation.  Then came the fullness of joy that was the resurrection of Jesus.  (Which reminds me… I wonder if we will ever treat Easter with the same wonder and excitement as we do Christmas?  Why does the manger get all the good music?)

And do you remember the story of the Prodigal Son?  And the celebration that took place when he exchanged his plan for a party?  “My son was dead, and he’s alive again!” exclaimed the joyful father.  Not a good day to be a fatted calf.  Or a fuming older brother.  But a joyful day to be a broke-down son whose only solution was to come home again.

How about that lost friendship?  The restored marriage?  The reconciled enmity?  Joy.  Joy.  And more joy.

In the Rediscovery of a Lost Treasure

Jesus tells three stories in Luke 15 to illustrate that joy in heaven when a sinner repents. I already mentioned the lost son.  The others were the lost coin and the lost sheep.  In these stories when something treasured was missing, the shepherd, the widow, and the father could think of nothing else but the pain of loss.  But when the lost treasure was found, the joy sent them into celebration mode.

Sometimes the treasure is something tangible, as in the stories.  Sometimes it’s more intangible, but just as much a treasure.  A rediscovered relationship.  A rediscovered interest.  A rediscovered asset of some sort.  Sometimes the joy comes when you realize that the treasure has been inside you all along.

In the Witness of a Miraculous Display

Joy fills up when prayer gets answered.  Whenever finite humans recognize they have witnessed something only God can do, that eternity has touched their time-bound world, joy is the natural result.

Maybe that’s why some people have lost the joy.  They’ve reduced their lives to something they can manage by themselves.

When was the last time you saw something with your own eyes that defied natural explanation?  When was the last time you asked God for something that defied natural explanation?  Maybe it’s time again to ask and receive, that your joy may be full.

In the Presence of a Happy God

Joy is the fruit of the Spirit because joy is one expression of the character and nature of God.  It’s here that the Lord gets a bum rap.  At least in my experience, I have looked at joy as something He gives, but not something He is.   Sort of like parents who patiently, even lovingly watch their children squeal with glee on Christmas morning but remain somewhat detached.  That was my picture of how God relates to joy.

Yet the Bible refers to God as “blessed” – happy.  He sings over us, delights over us, rushes with joy to meet us when we return to Him, and invites us to enter into that same experience. You are a saint in the hands of a happy God! And the more you rest in Him, commune with Him, listen, love, and talk to Him, the more you naturally experience that joy… to the point that Paul says it’s a choice to be “filled with joy in the Lord” (Philippians 4:4, NLT).

Where is the joy?  In the presence of the Joymaker (Psalm 16:9).  Don’t believe me?  Stop.  Breathe.  Realize.  Right now you are in the presence and have the attention of Sovereign Lord of the Universe.  His heart is your playground.  You are seated in Christ at His hand of power and authority.  Oh… and He’s happy you’re there!

Do you sense the change?  There’s more to come.

Oh… and if you’re one of those priceless people who not only walk in joy but spread it to others like the seeds of a wind-blown dandelion… On behalf of gasping, struggling believers everywhere, let me say, thank-you.  I pray that the joy you so freely offer will be returned to you a hundredfold.

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