J. O. Y.
That little word shows up a lot in the Bible. In the New American Standard translation, joy appears 147 times in the Old Testament and 64 times in the New Testament. That’s a lot of joy.
So, why is it so hard for me to find? Muster up? Hold on to?
I can’t be alone in this.
In the New Testament, the word translated joy is the Greek word chara, a noun that describes a feeling of inner gladness, delight, or rejoicing. I don’t know about you, but I would take all of that. Any of those would do.
Last year — 2020 — too often described as unprecedented, seems to gave taken more than it has given. People. Places. And things. Our normal was shaken, not stirred. Turned upside down. And joy. Well, joy was a bit elusive. More elusive than usual.
Oh, early on I found delight in the novelty of it all. I cleaned and cleaned some more. I sewed. I baked. I wrote. The isolation was an excuse to be disconnected without guilt. To live in my own little world. To do my own thing.
But as novelty always does, it gave way.
Novelty gave way to increased inconvenience. To fear. To the fear of not having enough. Ahhh…. There it was. Exposed.
My joy? Tethered to the wrong thing. Because joy —chara—does not come from things. (How many times do I have to be reminded of this?) The joy that the Bible offers and encourages us to choose comes only from Someone.
Twenty-twenty was a year of having less than for us. Life’s accessories. All the little things that punctuate with delight. And that year of less than exposed my propensity to misappropriate my joy to people, places, and things.
What I must further confess is that I have too often gleaned my joy from the gifts, rather than the Giver of the gifts.
How do I know? It’s pretty simple. When the gifts were removed, my joy eluded me. And no matter how I tried, I could not muster it up. Fake it. Pretend.
My joy was found in people: their need, love, and approval
In things: all things fun, entertaining, and beautiful.
Places: anywhere but here.
I know that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father.James 1:17
So, no. I am not taking a vow of poverty. I am not relinquishing all good things. But I am making a vow to tether my joy to the Giver of the gifts. Not to my knowledge of Him. Not to the acknowledgment of Him.
I am tethering my joy to the Person of Jesus by spending time in His presence. Practicing gratitude for the gifts He gives. Recognizing He is the greatest of these gifts. The only source of joy that cannot and will not elude me. A joy that endures as I abide. An infinite joy, outside of happiness and beyond this life. Real. And it’s available right now in this life. Right at this very moment.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation
of your souls.”1 Peter 1:11
Do you ever notice that your joy is found in things? If you could only get that? Have this?
Or people? If they would just be like this. Or that?
Or maybe if you could go there?
You could find some joy!!
I invite you to join me in practicing finding joy in the person of Jesus. A joy independent of our circumstances. Joy that runs deep and wide.