Intentional about joy

Published by Jason Shiels on

10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8v10

Much has been written at the start of this crisis and lockdown of the need to give ourselves permission to grieve or lament during periods or situations of loss. The Psalms are full of lament, even complaint, that helps to decompress the very human emotions we have building up during distressing times. God invites a robust dialogue and communication. However, the Psalms always turn at some point to proclaim God’s faithfulness and character, and ultimately to his goodness and victories. David and the other Psalmists knew that lament alone would not heal or align us and that we must not only endure but also en-joy,

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound” Psalm 4v7

We need to access one of the most vital and edifying fruits of the Spirit and that is – joy! If we allow ourselves to be weighed down by pressures, stress, delays, regrets, fears, worry, indeterminate sense of loss (and the list goes on) then we will snuff out this vital fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Someone once said,

“seriousness is not a fruit of the Spirit but joy is”

By bringing up such a quote at this time can seems irreverent or seem like I am making light of the crisis at hand due to Covid-19. I really am not. There is of course a moment for everything. A season for everything under the son the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us, including grief. However I believe that we also need to grow in joy in all seasons of life,

“living in joy should not just be contingent upon our circumstances”

Joy is a fruit that the Holy Spirit grows and ripens in us as we allow His Word and Spirit to flourish in our lives. When we cling to worthless idols (believing falsely that we cannot survive without them), or reject God’s perspective on a matter or fail to allow the Spirit of God to bring us into His rest and joy, then we will just get more and more serious and probably more and more worn out! The joy of the Lord is our strength!

Life is busy and the work we do important and often serious (for example as church leader I deal with important matters of life and eternity day by day) however I believe that I too need to be reminded to be intentional about joy. It seems to be one of the fruits of the Spirit that we are prepared to dial down on, mistakenly thinking that we are being sacrificial by allowing the seriousness of life or our calling to drown out joy. Well, that is just not smart, and yet I for one have too often allowed this to happen. You know we are so much more effective, and fruitful in life too, when we live in joy. Our relationships and work are much more likely to flourish when we abide in the joy-giver and overflow with a heart of thankfulness rather than whingeing all the time. For this to happen, let’s be reminded today to make room for joy, yes, and even be intentional about living in the joy of the Lord who is our strength!

Jason Shiels 04.05.20

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