“With Christ as our solid rock we are able to have joy in all circumstances. Because of our belief in Jesus as our rock we stand firm knowing that we are secure. Our joy is not an emotion that changes like happiness, but our joy is so much more. Joy is rooted, grounded and anchored in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Without it, our house is built on nothing but sand. When the rains come and beat against it, the house cannot stand. Our joy is not whimsical or quickly fleeting, but it is a joy in spite of suffering. It is a joy that strengthens and encourages us.” -my man (Mark Van Teyens)
If you go onto a search engine and type in the word joy, it will be defined as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” Therefore, according to modern technology, the secular, worldly, common definition of joy is synonymous with happiness. A part of me, a little too skeptical, questions why it is so easy to believe and adhere to the expectation of this said joy. Perhaps it is in part to the fact that daily, every human of this world awakes with the psychological expectation of this happiness, this said joy.
As children of God and heirs of Christ we have been caused to come alive. This call that reached the depths of our inner being, cultivating the most magnificent conversion within our souls, replacing our hearts of stone with flesh, calling us to be set apart. Yet, walking with our chains broken and free of bondage, we yield to this yoke of slavery expecting happiness in our walk with God. Perhaps we believe that if we walk in obedience, in accordance with His word and will than we are “fine.” The feeble, sinful nature of our flesh battles to grasp pain as a result of obedience, allowing Satan to suffocate us with the sin we are desiring to walk in. The belief that happiness is essential to the Christian life must be crucified in our flesh.
It is easy to tuck biblical joy away in a box to never be unlocked because like the Israelites wandering in the desert, we are quick to forget the power, the might and majesty of an omniscient God. For the flesh seeks fulfillment from streams that are dry and deserted. The box is locked tighter and tighter as worldly eyes are blinded and hindered from hearing by faith the truth. This is due in part to craving the whimsical nature of worldly joy, the fleeting feeling of glorying in all things temporary. Deep feelings of rejection, failure in human mastery to seek approval, paralyzing anxiety, dark burdened depressive feelings overcome bondage that is already broken. Leaving failure in achieving such worldly joy, fleeting, quickly fading happiness in momentary experiences. All of this deeply rooted emotion will come to a head, causing walls to fly up around our hearts, locking out our grace-giving, love-lavishing, mercy-breathing, just Father.
The flesh skeptically, dangerously, and sinfully begs for such a joy with works of hands. Unwilling to surface the truth of bitterness that we must rejoice deeply in all circumstances. That we cannot forget Christ’s all-sufficient grace, and that His sovereign word will achieve His purposes in accordance with His divine, perfect, flawless will.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have no yet resisted to the point of shedding you blood.
And have you not forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the LORD, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the LORD disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives… but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” – Hebrews 12: 1-10
Our distractions are immense and our brokenness even more infinite. Our biblical joy is diminished by the easily captivated nature of our weak eyes, fixing on the momentary seen of the flesh, opposed to running each step with our eyes fully and wholeheartedly fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith. We must draw courage from the steadfast, perfect example embodied for us in the life and death of our Lord and Savior.
For we are treated as sons. We are disciplined as sons. The LORD tries and tests us, for the only purpose that we may experience growth into a servant that we could not have become otherwise. Yet, unlike Christ, we have never resisted to the point of shedding blood, yet we daily forget the price paid by our spotless Lamb. Our forgetfulness seeks and thirsts worldly happiness, with full belief that we do not deserve otherwise. However, we are comforted by the words of scripture. In that once we pick up our cross to follow our Lord and Savior we are going to suffer in the path of obedience. Our discipline in this path, yielding suffering, can produce steadfast joy in the comfort of being molded by the hands of divinity.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our affliction, so we may be able to comfort those who are in affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation… Our hope for you in unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” -2 Corinthians 1: 3-7
I pray for knowledge and wisdom to truly begin to grasp and understand that my own affliction is evidence of solidarity with Christ. We cannot add to the atoning work of Christ, therefore we must not strive to do so. We cannot strive for momentary, fleeting joy amongst our circumstances because the only true joy is grounded in our true Vine who is orchestrating the very circumstance we are fighting to escape. This very situation that we are attempting to escape is proof of our salvation and relationship in which we can cry out Abba! Father! Our hope must be unshaken, rooted and grounded in the infallible truth. Our minds and hearts are tried and tested, leading us to deeply desire happiness instead of facing the truth of the intimacy and discipline our affliction reveals. We are being disciplined because we must learn that we cannot rely on ourselves, but only fully on the Lord. For we are never going to meet perfection on this side of the resurrection. Therefore, at all times, in all circumstances, in remembrance of our Creator, we can rejoice deeply in all things.
“The Rock, “his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.” -Deuteronomy 32: 4