How often do you feel a genuine sense of joy bubbling away deep in your soul? As I write these words, I’m conscious that it’s a damp and dreary Monday morning – not the ideal circumstances to experience an outpouring of joy I guess! But then, what are the ideal circumstances to foster joy in our lives?
Joy isn’t really a word that we use all that much outside of church circles, and I’m not really sure that we understand what it means all that well. We can sometimes confuse the words joy and happiness and think that they mean the same thing. In fact, the online dictionary defines joy as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”, which doesn’t really help all that much. In Christian circles, you often hear JOY described using an acronym: Jesus-Others-You. When we get our priorities right in life, then that can lead to a state of joy.
I guess the temptation is to think of joy as something exuberant and natural, bubbling up out of us and enriching the lives of those around us. But in the Bible, joy is often a state of being that is very much conscious and pre-meditated. Just listen to these words from Habakkuk 3:17-18: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour”.
This kind of joy is very much a THOUGH-YET state of being. I imagine that nobody reading this blog cultivates their own fig trees or breeds their own cattle! Please do get in touch and let me know if I’m wrong. But as humans we all know what it is to experience the flow of life going against us and everything seeming to go wrong in our world. Yet in the midst of all that, the prophet describes how even in the most difficult of circumstances, we can still choose to rejoice and to be joyful in God. That’s not at all easy and it’s a challenge I often fall short on. But for today, though you may be struggling through your own adversity and misfortune , may you yet find the courage to rejoice and be joyful in God your Saviour.