I think it’s safe to say that most of us are familiar with the old children’s Sunday School song that goes “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy is down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart…and if the Devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack, etc.” It seems the give the idea of that this joy is “happiness”, bliss, a euphoric emotion of extreme happiness. Okay – then why does it say in Ps 30:5 Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Or – Neh 8:10b For the joy of the Lord is your strength. Both indicate a quality or state of being that enables us to endure trials. It is a gift from the Holy Spirit – along with, love, peace,patience and the rest. All are given as special gifts from God and His Spirit.
I think I’d almost explain it this way: Joy is akin to the peace that goes beyond our understanding. It’s a deep knowing of trust – right in the middle of heartache – you can have joy. Again – this isn’t that stupid grin happy feeling – it’s a resolve to stand strong. Or – that’s how I feel I’ve experienced this – gift. I have two distinct memories of how this resonated in my heart. The first was the day an officer brought my sister-in-law’s purse to me after the tragic car wreck that killed her and her family. A couple of things happened as I held her once immaculate, white purse that now was stained beyond repair. My first thought was she would be pissed that her purse was ruined. My second thought – they. were.gone. It was at that moment that this strength came over me and a peace and a joy that we would not walk through this alone. To me – joy begets strength; strength begets hope. The second time I experienced this supernatural strength of joy was at the bedside of my son while he vomited blood every 30 seconds. He had a water skiing accident where the ski popped off and smashed into his face crushing the occipital bones of his face well the one side at least. We were told that he was more than fortunate or lucky because if the ski had gone just a hair one side or the other – the results could have been blindness or death. All Daniel experienced was a mild concussion and shattered occipital bones that needed time to mend. While sitting his side, praying the nausea medicine would kick in quickly, I really don’t remember experiencing a feeling of helplessness and if I did, it dissipated as the joy/hope replaced the fear I may have had.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – we know these truths. Pursuit of happiness – it doesn’t come easily – it is to be sought after, chased down, hunted and acquired. It requires our effort. Maybe that’s why I read two different articles this morning about an app for happiness people can download and it shows them how to be happy. The other article mentioned a true “happy pill” , but it’s really a placebo. People are desperate for peace. What we are really looking for is hope, assurance or peace of mind. An app or a pill will not give you this. It really is the peace that goes beyond our understanding because in those situations – I had confidence. and strength that held me together. Did I have answers? No – still don’t.
I’ve been reading and re-reading this particular verse lately:
“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.”`Hosea 6: 1-3
This to me shows that we will endure crappy things in our life, but those things do not have to destroy us. It all comes down to a choice – not an app or a pill – but a conscious effort on our part to choose to press on and trust Him. Therein lies our joy and strength.