How Christians Lose their Joy

by Andy Wood on July 7, 2013

in Esteem, Five LV Laws, Following Your Passion, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Abundance

joylessThis morning I have the privilege of preaching at Shadow Hills Baptist Church here in Lubbock.  After dreaming about hearing John Piper preaching in my head all night long that “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him” (and I’ve never actually listened all the way through to one of his messages), I believe the Lord was “instructing me in the night watches” (Psalm 16:7) to preach on joy, and specifically how we can lose it.  Here’s a quick summary of what I’m sharing there…

The most joyful people on the planet are believers in Jesus Christ.

The most joyless, miserable people on the planet are Christians, too.

Those who don’t have a relationship with Christ don’t know any better, and as they say, “Ignorance is bliss.”  But those of us who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, then somehow lost that sense of His presence, know there is something missing.

I’d like to show you how that’s possible.  How can someone who has experienced this amazing joy suddenly find themselves without it?

The secret of joy is found in Psalm 16:11.

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

The secret of joy is the presence of God!  If God is there, we can face anything.  In this Psalm, David shows us how to maintain and preserve that sense of God’s presence. So to answer the question, how can Christians lose their joy, we’re going to look at it from a backwards perspective.  When you see how you can lose your sense of God’s presence, you will see how you can lose your joy.

1. When we trust in something other than God.

Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You (v. 1).

David could say he was joyful in the presence of God because when he needed a refuge, the Lord was where he turned.

Where do you turn for your sense of safety or well-being? It’s easy to look to people, to circumstances, to institutions, or to a host of other sources for a sense of safety. But all of those sources will ultimately disappoint or leave you feeling insecure. When the Lord is your ultimate refuge, His joy is your strength.

2. When we find good in something other than God.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.”

David was confident in the presence of the Lord because he saw in God the source of every good thing.  All his values and valuables were extensions of God’s hand and heart.

In your search for goodness and good things, you will look to some source. Even as a believer, it’s possible to look somewhere other than in your relationship with God. And it could be that if you’ve lost your joy, it’s because you are looking for ultimate goodness in someone or something other than Him.

3. When we lose our fellowship with God’s people.

As for the saints who are in the earth, They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight (v. 3).

David found delight in his connection with God’s people. So will you.  The presence of God is in the presence of His people, in spite of the many attempts we make to prove Him wrong about that!  If you’re not in fellowship with God’s people, you are not in fellowship with God, and that’s why your life is joyless.

4. When we fall victim to the influence of idolatry.

The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied… (v. 4).

What a haunting description of what any believer is capable of – bartering for another god. And the reason we are joyless is because we create substitutes for God. That’s the New Testament definition of an idol, and you can find them anywhere… Work… Money… Pleasure… People.  And you may well find at the other end of a joyless life the heart of someone who bartered for another god.

5. When we lose our contentment.

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me (v. 5-6).

What a sweet expression of contentment! David was looking at his life and declaring that life is good – not because of things or property or money, but because when his “inheritance” was counted, the Lord was his portion.  How could he lose?

That said, contentment in this world is elusive. Paul confessed to the Philippians that contentment was something he had learned – it didn’t come naturally to him.  It won’t come naturally to you, either.  And when you lose your content, you lose your joy.

6. When we stop listening to God.

I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night (v. 7).

Hearing the voice of God is an instant recipe for knowing His presence and experiencing His joy.  But in spite of the fact that hearing the voice of the Lord is every believer’s privilege, it is all too easy to allow other voices or even our own business to drown out what the Lord is saying to you.

When was the last time you heard the Lord speaking to you? If it’s been too long, maybe that’s why you’re living a joyless life.

7. When we have a wavering commitment.

I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken (v. 8).

Know why children are so joyful? Because in their “immature” way they “set their parents before them.”  And because they are confident in the security of their parents, they are free to experience unbridled joy.  Funny how that changes when they get older.

An even greater unshakable Source is available to every believer – the faithful presence of the Lord God. But your awareness of His presence grows out of your commitment to “set Him before you.”

8. When we become afraid of dying.

For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay (v. 10).

Sheol is loosely translated, “the grave” or “the place of the dead.” The Old Testament pictures that as pretty much a joyless place of sorrow, despair, and, well, death.  And believe me, if all we have in this life is this life, then death is a pretty fearsome thing.

Christians are taught that life doesn’t end here – that this is a down-payment for greater joy to come. But when we are consumed with the details and affairs of this life, the sting of death can be a joy-consuming force.

 

Want to know that great thing about the joy of the Lord? Even when you think you’ve lost it, you can see it restored. The secret of His joy is recognizing that you are in His presence. And the beauty of a life in Christ is that there is never a time when you’re without His presence!  Just times when we forget that because we get distracted.

Choose joy today. It’s your birthright as a believer.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha Orlando July 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I love the concept of joy being our birthright as believers. We need to remember that each and every day, and always choose God’s joy over everything else.
Blessings, Andy!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..In This Moment . . .

keijo October 10, 2013 at 11:03 am

Hello and God bless you and let he give us exciitng life with the lords blessing and joy for his love endures forever and let us not forget that be thankful and and again thankful and follow Christ steps by steps and and do not give permision to the flesh not any way,thanks and bless,keijo sweden

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