“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” – Job 8:21

Joy: Part 1

     In case you haven’t noticed, we live in a culture which has pretty much given up on the idea of joy.  I mean, look around you.  If you watch the news for any amount of time, you will probably come upon several stories of people who do things to hurt others out of their own depression or hopelessness.  Teens are expected to be depressed to a degree, and people suspect an abnormally happy teen of being on drugs or alcohol.   The world blares the message that there is no purpose to life and that human life is one cosmic accident.  If you read any modern philosophy book you will see that right away.  No wonder so many people struggle with depression!  Joy has been written off as unrealistic and artificial. 

      But as Christians, this pervading hopelessness doesn’t have to touch us.  Let me share with you what I’ve learned to do any time I start to feel the tiniest bit depressed.  The secret is actually quite simple: God loves me.  Now if you’ve grown up in the church like I have, you’ve probably heard that ever since you were a little kids singing “Jesus Loves Me” in Sunday School.  But have you ever stopped to consider that in depth?  True joy can be found in understanding a little better what that means. 

      The first and most obvious way in which we can see God’s immeasurable love for us is in our salvation.  God gave up his precious son so that YOU could be saved.  He has made you an heir with Christ. He has elevated you to the position of his child.  Think about how difficult it would be for a father to pour out all his wrath on his innocent son.  But he loved you so much that he was willing to sacrifice his only son to save you. 

     Not only that, but this show of God’s love was not just a one-time event.  1 John 4:16 says “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”  God is love.  Love is not only one of his attributes; he has a constant attitude of love towards you.  His love is not the type which was only shown once on the day of salvation.  No, that was just a glimpse of his enormous and constant love towards you every single day of your life. 

     I Chronicles 16:34 gives another description of God’s love towards us.  It says “Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”  God’s love is constant.  It is steadfast.  My thesaurus gives words like unwavering, unfaltering, resolute, persistent, committed, dedicated, and firm as synonyms for steadfast.  That means that nothing you do can ever remove you from God’s love.  Isn’t that amazing!  Now that’s something to be happy about. 

You have a perfect relationship with the most powerful being in the universe.  What kind of problem could compare with the relief that comes in knowing that?  Our joy rests on the most real thing on the planet.  Since the world doesn’t give us our joy, nothing in the world can take it away. 

Next time you start to succumb to the world’s mood of depression, remember the truth.  Remember that God himself loves you more than you could ever possibly imagine.  Remember the day 2000 years ago when God gave us a glimpse of his love for us by sacrificing his son so that we could have a relationship with him.  I guarantee that you’ll see things in a different light.

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