By Dr. Abayomi Sanusi – –
Again, welcome to November 2013, our Month of Resounding Joy.
There is an old spiritual that triumphantly declares ‘This joy that I have, the world didn’t give it to me and cannot take it away’. There is deep spiritual understanding behind that affirmation.
Joy is better experienced than explained, and can be difficult to translate. It is an outwardly expressed feeling of pleasure and delight. Many English language dictionaries refer to a joy in the light of its derivation from a Latin based French word that refers back to the act of rejoicing! Several languages display similar weaknesses in adequately representing joy. Perhaps for this reason there are usually several closely related yet different and unique words to describe joy. I conclude from observing the literal meaning of these words that joy must be a combination of three things: Peace of mind, Calmness of spirit, and Contentment of soul.
Being spiritual beings resident in a physical world, it is extremely easy and convenient to confuse happiness for joy. So much so that in today’s English language we just lazily fail to distinguish often use the expression “Joy and Happiness”. They are profoundly different. Watching your favourite football team win a world cup, deriving a desired achievement, or similar things also give pleasure and delight but have no impact on peace of mind, calmness of spirit or contentment of soul. We manage to shed ‘tears of joy’, and not of happiness!
Jesus spoke to his disciples of things about to happen to him: His death, resurrection, and the consequences for His followers. He stressed that He shall no longer need to speak to them in parables, but openly. He declared that ‘your joy no man taketh from you’. John 16.19-24 We need to understand that regardless of what happens in this earth to us as Christians, nothing can take our joy away.
Here are examples of joyful situations.
The bible describes a kind of peace that passes all understanding, the peace of God, which is able to keep the christian’s heart and mind. This can only be achieved through Jesus Christ. In fact Paul described the saints at Philippi as his ‘joy and crown’, encouraging them to stand fast in the Lord. That calmness of spirit and contentment in knowing the interest, work and power of God in the saints’ lives is characteristic of joy. Phil 4.1,6-7.
We get a glimpse of joy in Jesus’s parable of the lost sheep, and the description of rejoicing that happens in heaven when a soul is saved. There is no material quantification of the joy and rejoicing experienced from seeing an offspring doing well in life. Another example is the rejoicing when a miracle is performed, an achievement is realized, the grace and mercy of God have been displayed, or the emergence of another Christian testimony.
Joy has some unique characteristics.
Joy can be lost! The source of true joy is our Lord even when this is not very obvious to some people (Eccl 2.26a) & James 1.17. It is possible to rejoice wrongly, incorrectly and sinfully. James 4.13-17. Joy can be temporary Job 20.4-5. Throughout the ages innumerable people have used diverse ways to seek happiness to try and achieve joy. But true joy is spiritual, inseparable from God’s vision for your future. John 3.17-19. Achievement of this true joy and rejoicing requires spiritual understanding. Christians are at the very core of the constant struggle between God and the powers of darkness. And there is no excuse for ignorance. 1Pet 4.12-14
My prayer is that your joy shall be full. You will shed tears of joy. May God satisfy you with Peace of mind, Calmness of spirit, and Contentment of soul. There will never be a shortage of joy in your life and family! God will rebuke and eliminate every threat to your joy.
What are the consequences of knowing these things?
People of understanding rejoice in the things of God! (1 Thess 2.19)
It is imperatively a command that we rejoice in the Lord always. How can you rejoice in something or someone you never talk to, read about or fellowship with? Phil 4.4, Psalm 33. Without the necessary spiritual understanding there can be no true or lasting joy. If the basis of your joy is not God, you have no joy. Luke 15.3-7, 1 Chronicles 16.31-34.
Do not let anything steal your joy away from you
You think life is not turning out the way you planned it. God is the giver of joy. Is God the center of that plan? Only He could guarantee and sustain peace of mind, calmness of spirit or contentment of soul. If God gives you joy the world cannot take it away! People cannot make you happy. John 16.22.
Think of all adverse events, people and situations as stealers of joy. They are simply asking your permission to take your joy away. Do not give that permission. Go back to the basics. Go to God and rejoice in Him. It is time to know Him if you have not. Like that old spiritual know for yourself who the giver of your joy is, and the ill-understood fact that nothing can ever take your joy away. Jesus said so Himself, and still means it today.