A friend of mine said that his ambition for last year was to “pursue joy”.
After-all Scripture reminds us that “The joy of the Lord is my Strength and my Song” and the psalmist prays that he would be “restored to the joy of my salvation”.
Yet I wonder if I am always a good advert for joy? So, often I feel like a struggling and not quite burned out, but certainly a tad singed at times…
Joy, from my understanding of the word, isn’t something hypothetical but something real and tangible that can be evident in our lives, like peace it is a real emotion that Christ promises he gives to us in our real and every day lives.
Do I enjoy God’s peace and joy, are they gifts from God which I embrace and experience, habitually in my normal everyday life.
I wonder too, when I do into Churches how rare it is to see any joy, in more traditional Anglican settings joy is often replaced by reverence (a word I find strangely missing in scripture, although I’m not saying there isn’t a place for some solemnity within our worship). Yet, however our worship styles look I believe joy should be within it for it to truly be an act of worship (I realise too that there is a place for lament within our worship, but even so joy should break through, when we read the Psalms we see the reality of everyday life, and yet so often they end on a note of faith and hope, an undercurrent of joy that God remains upon his throne even -or maybe especially- in our darkest moments.
It is easy to justify our absence of joy on our personal circumstances, but Peace and Joy are actually meant to transcend our everyday experiences, sometimes we hear these wonderful stories of God’s supernatural peace or joy in the midst of bleakness and struggle.
I realise too that there is actually so much around us all to praise God for, lovely people, family, friends, beauty of creation -yet when challenges come out vision becomes more narrowed- yet God never lets us go and is always with us, and often in the pain we can experience more of him in greater depth.
To worship, even when life is not as it should be, is a choice, and sometimes we really don’t feel it, yet there are times when I have pressed through in my frustrations and my deflated-ness and found in that place of brokenness and sacrifice something new and wonderful. As we worship, it is a choice to focus not on our problems and on our pain, but on the God who is the lifter of our head, “the one from whom our help comes from the maker of heaven and earth”.
So, my challenge primarily to myself, is where is my peace, where does my joy come from?
As I seek God more and more, aren’t these characteristics of him that perhaps I know I am somewhat lacking.
Perhaps, we need to seek to find God the source of peace and joy that transcends our understanding?