Joy, unspeakable joy
An overflowing well
no tongue can tell
Joy, unspeakable joy
Rises in my soul, never lets me go
(Joy To The World, Chris Tomlin)
Singing these words has a tendency, at times, to leave a sense of guilt within the depths of my soul. Yes, as a follower of Jesus, we have the hope that surpasses any other possible dream. Nevertheless, the joy I should have, has the ability to be shaken by the pains of this world.
Reading excerpts from the writings of the Apostle Paul as he says things like “I always pray with joy” and “I will continue to rejoice” (found in Philippians 1), leaves a sense of awe and a desire to find that same strength in faith. These words bring a stronger appreciation to Paul’s attitude when it is realized that these writings took place in a small, horrible jail cell. Through his times of suffering, Paul wrote about his joy.
Finding that same joy is the desire of my heart. In many cases, it is not joy that I experience, but rather, temporary happiness that comes as everything appears to be going well. Nonetheless, when hardships are faced, that happiness fades.
There must be more to life than this. I desire more. I long for it, yet, struggle to attain it. Going back to the Apostle Paul, he was a man that shared similar struggles that we do today. Revealing those heartaches, Paul wrote about his “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12. Whatever this “thorn” referred to, Paul reveals a real struggle. In fact, he tells us that he went to God three times asking for it to be taken away and received this message from Jesus: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Finding strength in that grace is what leads to real joy. Maybe my focus is off kilter- seeing life through the lens of “ME” rather than through the heart of God. God was always with Paul, even through his hardships. God is always with me, even when life does not go my way.
I’m tired of just being happy. I desire, like Paul, to find a joy that sustains. Jesus’ grace is sufficient and will give the strength that I need. I merely need to trust His promise.