John 16:22 ESV
Jesus said, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
The greatest battles have been fought, not on the soil of foreign lands but at home and in one’s own heart. Surely great battles have been fought for our country’s freedom, but great battles are also waged each day on a spiritual level. Battles we may never know the depths of, battles we cannot fully comprehend. The enemy of humanity has aligned his forces with defeating darkness, wasted time, cancer, agony, pain and a plethora of other ugly cohorts. His tactics are never simple, but always in a deceptive disguise. Whispers of happiness, if you’d just give in and come into the shadows with him. Promises that the emptiness will be filled, if you’d just try his poison. And shouts that the pain will be numbed, if you’d just sever your ties with the Holy Spirit and abandon your relationship with the lover of your soul. In the midst of the chaos of this mind battle, we struggle to distinguish a direction.
In reality, the enemy of humanity steals happiness, but convinces us there is nothing more important than having happiness. Oh friends, this is such a lie. He thinks he can slither in and weave his dastardly web, replacing lost happiness with his… happiness substitutes. Oozing a thick pungent syrup into our path. Many get stuck in its trap, believing that happiness is anything that numbs the pain and makes the hole seem less empty.
Enter joy. Joy is not happiness. Joy is many steps further then happiness could ever take us. Happiness can be bought, sold, bartered, lost and stolen. Aw…. but joy, it is alway near. You can have it even when you cry, when you are angry, when you have lost someone dear and when life is very dark. God promises it will come in the morning, after a night of tears. It comforts in the deepest valley, it sharpens your awareness when life numbs your senses, it carries sympathy when you have forgotten how to care and it teaches us where to run when hope seems far away.
This excerpt by Kay Warren was simply beautiful I had to share…
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.
You’ll find nothing in that definition about happy feelings, because, as we all know, happiness is fleeting and temporary.
We tend to think that life comes in hills and valleys. In reality, it’s much more like train tracks. Every day of your life, wonderful, good things happen that bring pleasure and contentment and beauty to you. At the exact same time, painful things happen to you or those you love that disappoint you, hurt you, and fill you with sorrow. These two tracks — both joy and sorrow — run parallel to each other every single moment of your life.
That’s why, when you’re in the midst of an amazing experience, you have a nagging realization that it’s not perfect. And while you’re experiencing something painful, there’s the glorious realization that there is still beauty and loveliness to be found. They’re inseparable.
If you look down train tracks into the brightness of the horizon, the tracks become one. You can’t distinguish them as two separate tracks. That’s how it will be for us, too. One day, our parallel tracks of joy and sorrow will merge into one. The day we meet Jesus Christ in person and see the brightness of who he is, it will all come together for us. Then it will all make complete sense.”
So, to the enemy who haunts my doorstep and challenges my desire to walk forward, I say, “you cannot have my joy.” I stand at the threshold of another part of this journey, wondering and holding my breath. I have faced the enemy, with the silhouette of my Savior permanently etched in the wall behind me. His presence is striking and holds true. Every step I take His shadow envelopes me. And in this, there is the reality of joy.
Joy fought cancer side by side with us. Joy shone hope in spite of terrifying news. Joy placed comforting hands on me as I lay beside my dying husband. Joy urged me to stand up, when I wanted to curl up and die after my beloved one passed away. Joy stood in the place of all the missing happiness at every “first” I have experienced since. Joy conquered my need for mere happiness. Joy… was a gift my Father gave to me in the darkness, deepest, loneliest places of this past year.
I pray real joy is yours today.