Joy is an amazing feeling and a wonderful way to live and view life, but it can often be confused with ‘happiness.’
Sometimes joy doesn’t come so easily because of our emotions, our situations, and what we currently have. We can often fall into the trap of focusing on what we don’t have and if you’re spending all this time wishing life was something else, it’s going to be pretty easy to feel unhapppy. It also brings up the problem of discontentment and comparing yourself with others (which completely sucks! But we’re humans and it’s something we are ALL capable of feeling). Now of course, there are plenty of situations to be unhappy, sad and miserable about and it’s not really unjustifiable… In a fallen world, that’s something to be sure of. I’m definitely not saying you have to be happy or telling you to be happy…What I am saying is that JOY and HAPPINESS are different! You can still be capable of having joy in your life despite your circumstances.
Trouble is going to come our way in multiple occasions but it can be used for good! That’s why we need joy in our lives. Joy is being able to get through these difficult circumstances and these tough and hard to deal with emotions because there is HOPE in God. With hope, there is peace. We can find rest and assurance knowing that even though sometimes things are just out of our control, there is God. We can put our faith into believing that whatever happens God CAN still make good happen. That whatever He chooses to do, even if we don’t understand why, it is still part of His sovereign will and that one day it will all come to light. God is still a LOVING and JUST God. It’s a struggle of faith when we can’t seem to see these characteristics, but I believe that God is still above us, and who are we to question his decisions? He doesn’t change and he’s loving, so what happens – the bad- the terrible- I wouldn’t say God is happy, but if He allowed it, we can still turn to him for comfort, instead of anger.
We should not just follow God just by the way he seems to bless us because He’s not a genie. Just like how we should not just friend others because of what we will gain from it. We should do these things out of selfless love and care. What’s the point of JUST caring about those who care about you? What about the lost and the empty? How will they ever receive love if no one extends it? And if they don’t receive love, how will they love others? We love because He first loved us and that’s how we even know what is!
I’ve been through some tough times but they’ve made me stronger and I’d like to think more compassionate. There have been times where all I have felt is pain, tiredness and meaningless. In these times I have not been happy, but joy again is not sorely just happiness. I’ve held onto the love of God, because no matter the physical circumstance that the human life brings, I still have been blessed beyond measure and I give thanks for being chosen to live. This ‘being blessed beyond measure’, is that gift of salvation, and that promise that Jesus Christ brought to sinners when He died on the cross. He died so we could be forgiven and we could have purpose in life and a best friend in Him.
The testing of your faith really does produce perseverance – and it’s in those difficult times of testing that you need to remember it’s not all about the physical things we can see currently – but that there are works of God happening all around us and He still has a plan to make things right. God in His own way has already won this battle for us and he sent Jesus Christ down for us.
Look at what James says… James 1:2-5 Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. you need wisdom — if you want to know what God wants you to do — ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.
and in Romans!
Faith Brings Joy
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
In the sermon at church, and also online I found out the story behind the song ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus’. I believe this is such an encouraging and meaningful story but also example of a man who found JOY in the Lord. Despite his immense sufferings, Scriven still gave thanks to the Lord, and brought forth his grief and pain to God – seeing him as his friend. God – a friend and father of comfort.
What a Friend We Have in Jesus, the Song and the Story (Click the link for original source)
Irish born Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1896) was 25 years old, in love and to be married. The day before his wedding his fiance died in a tragic drowning accident. Heartbroken, Joseph sailed from his homeland to start a new life in Canada. While in Canada working as a teacher, he fell in love again and became engaged to Eliza Roche, a relative of one of his students. Once again, Joseph’s hopes and dreams were shattered when Eliza became ill and died before the wedding could take place.
Although one can only imagine the turmoil within this young man, history tells us that his faith in God sustained him. Soon after Eliza’s death Joseph joined the Plymouth Brethren and began preaching for a Baptist church. He never married, but spent the remainder of his life giving all his time, money and even the clothes off his own back to help the less fortunate and to spread the love and compassion of Jesus wherever he went.
Around the same time that Eliza died, Joseph received word from Ireland that his mother was ill. He could not go to be with her, so he wrote a letter of comfort and enclosed one of his poems entitled What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
Many years later a friend was sitting with Joseph, as he was very ill. During this visit, the friend was very impressed when he ran across his poems, including What a Friend We Have in Jesus. As a result of this visit, almost 30 years after his letter of comfort to his mother, Joseph’s poems were published in a book called Hymns and Other Verses. Soon thereafter, noted musician Charles C. Converse (1834-1918) put music to one of those poems: What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Well-known musician and revivalist Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908) was a great admirer of Joseph Scriven. In 1875, Sankey came upon the music and words for What a Friend We Have in Jesus. He included it as the last entry into his well-known publication Sankey’s Gospel Hymns Number 1.
After Joseph Scriven’s death, the citizens of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada, where he gave so much of himself, erected a monument to his life. The seemingly sad and obscure life of one man resulted in so many lives being uplifted, both in his own time, and for many years after whenever the beautiful and comforting words of What a Friend We Have in Jesus are sung.
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” ( John 15:13)
I know that this was a VERY long post! And if you’re still reading, well done for getting through it :) Joy is a tough one, but that’s why we need strength from the Lord. We can’t just choose and have joy by ourselves. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me!