I made this painting the other day, and ever since it has been on my mind. It’s made me think about what it means to have joy in the Lord, and how that sets Christians apart from the rest of the world. I praise Him because He has filled my heart with greater joy.
(Click on the picture to find it in my Etsy shop!)
You have filled my heart with greater joy.
It’s an undeniable truth- we have joy in the Lord. I have come to see over the years that the people who have that indescribable joy in life are those who find their purpose, hope and provision in God. Just because they have joy doesn’t mean they won’t face trials and temptations (Paul makes that clear in James 1), but it does mean those things won’t consume and destroy them. They are the people who, in the midst of heartache and pain, still find peace and joy in the Lord. They have purpose in their life. They are standing on solid ground. And they know that no matter what happens, it will all be for God’s glory.
I firmly believe that you cannot experience true joy outside of Christ. Joy is more than being happy or having a good day. It is, as Piper put it, “a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world”. Joy is about seeing the work of Christ in everything we experience, whether it be good or bad. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), which means we cannot have it without the work of the Lord. That is what makes Christian joy so unique- it is a product of being a child of God!
I am close friends with a lady at my church whom I greatly admire. When I think of the joy we have in the Lord, she is the first person who comes to mind. If you were to meet her, you would have no idea what she and her family have gone through this year. They have faced medical problems, financial difficulties and so much more. Yet she has joy. Every Sunday and Wednesday she is either working in the nursery, teaching the children, or pointing her son to Christ. She has the biggest smile and warmest hug, and joy radiates from within her. In the midst of one of the hardest years of her life, she has not ceased to give it all to the Lord. She is one of the strongest, bravest and sweetest women I’ve met, and I pray that God may continue to use her for His glory. She is a living testimony of what it means to have joy- true joy– in the Lord.
I pray that as God continues to mold me and teach me, that I may grow in my joy in Him. As a child of God, my goal in life to to give all glory to the author and perfecter of my faith, no matter my circumstances. While reading through the Bible this past year, I have been so humbled to see how easy I have it compared to the things Paul and other early Christians endured. They faced persecution, death, beatings, name calling, lies and shame, yet their joy never wavered. They were firm in their faith and they knew their identity was found in Christ and Christ alone. Even while he was in jail for sharing the Gospel, Paul was still able to say “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say it, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). May we remember that today, and find our joy in the Lord.
Just as our joy is based on the promise that God is strong enough and wise enough to make all things work together for our good, so God’s joy is based on that same sovereign control: He makes all things work together for His glory.
-John Piper, in Desiring God
And as my little gift to you, here’s a digital version of the painting! To access the full sized version, go here, save to your computer and print at your local Staples, Kinkos, etc.