As I am sitting here thinking about the message from yesterday, I am contemplating two things. The first thing is that joy is more of a state of being than a feeling, and the second is that we are taught to not be joyful.
When I read the verse, “Do not grieve, the joy of the LORD is your strength” Nehemiah 8:10b, I can’t help but think that there must be more to joy than just feeling happy. Nehemiah is talking about being joyful in a time that you could be grieving. Mary is in a situation where she has gone away, most likely sent away from her immediate family and community while she is pregnant, all because she was faithful and God gave her a child even though she was not married. She could have done a number of things, bragging about what God has done because she is so good, she could be saying woe is me, but instead she is thankful and is praising God. In her faithfulness she is still able to praise God, even though things aren’t going as easily as she would want them to and then there is the fact that God has interrupted her life plans, or has He? She strikes me as someone who had the goal of being faithful to God no matter what. Would I be that way, am I that way? The answer to that is some days are better than others. What about you?
The second part of this is that if we were to live lives filled with the joy of the Lord, which I am seriously doubting our society really wants because if we did, our society and economy would fail. As I look around I see instances of encouragement to live and experience joy, but this joy is not satisfying, it ends. If we truly live lives of joy, we would not be constantly trying to get our fix of joy. We would be more thankful, loving, and I think we would look and act more like the people that Jesus talks about when He answered the question about the greatest commandment, “To love the LORD your God with all your heart, mind, body and soul, and the second is like it, to love your neighbour as yourself.” God wants us to live lives of joy but for some reason we get caught up in dissatisfaction instead of joy. We covet, we are envious, prideful, and greedy (every one to a different degree) but in our wanting more we move a way from the joyful humility that Jesus displays, lives out and calls us to follow in. In our strivings are we striving to follow Jesus or to fit in in this world? Jesus came to bring us and call us into fullness of life but too often we try to fill our life with things that do not bring us Joy. Maybe we need to be spending more time with Jesus to find out what real joy, a life of joy really is, I bet it is bigger and deeper than many of us can imagine.