For anyone who has struggled through this dark night of the soul regarding fear, anxiety and panic attacks, joy can be elusive. The pain, confusion and heaviness of fear often leaves us exhausted. There’s no joy and laughter.
One of God’s greatest gifts to us is joy. When Jesus died on the cross, he took away all of our sins and gave us the opportunity to have a new life–a life of joy and peace. John 10:10 describes it this way: “[Jesus] came that we might have life and life more abundantly.”
Grace paves the way for us to experience God’s joy!
The World’s Joy
I was talking to a lady awhile back who described her childhood as one filled with drinking, partying and lots of people laughing. As she grew older, she associated these “fun times” with evil behavior. So, in her mind, she wanted to avoid anything resembling that kind of “fun.” It became very difficult for her to experience any joy and laughter, because in her mind, anything “fun” was evil. Later in her life, she began to understand this mis-association and started to enjoy life more.
Lots of believers today struggle to experience joy in their lives because of this mis-association with fun. Each of us has a desire to experience joy. God put characteristics of himself into each of us. We were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and because of that, God created us to experience joy and for his own joy. God rejoices over you!
For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Much of the world’s fun and laughter is really just a counterfeit. It is man’s attempt to experience what God created us for–to enjoy life. We often strive to fill this legitimate need for joy in an illegitimate way.
A few months ago, I traveled to Las Vegas for work. While I was there, walking around the downtown area, I was mesmerized by all the sights and sounds of Vegas. I had been there many times before, but this visit was different. I began thinking about all the vain promises of Vegas–money, pleasure and power. Then, it hit me–this is a counterfeit for heaven.
The allure of Vegas for many is this deep craving for true joy. This “joy” of Vegas will always be short-lived and temporary. While it may be fun for a moment, it is not everlasting joy. Only God provides true, everlasting joy. Heaven will be a place of incredible beauty, wealth and joy.
Here’s the incredible truth: we don’t need to wait till heaven to experience all that God has for us. The Kingdom life that heaven provides is already ours today through faith in Christ. When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), all of the work required to bring heaven to earth was completed. Paul said it this way, “[God] has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
Heaven is ours today!
God’s Presence – Cartoons and PB&J
As a worship leader, Steve was familiar with drawing people into the presence of God. Each weekend, he would lead people in worship and many would experience God’s presence and incredible joy.
One Saturday morning, Steve was going through his normal routine. Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then sit down to watch some Saturday morning cartoons. All of sudden, he felt God’s presence. His gut reaction was to stop everything, turn off the TV and “enter in”. But, God whispered to him, “I just want to sit down and watch cartoons with you.”
I love this story because it reminds me that God just wants to spend time with us. Even in those little things that bring us joy, he is there. And, he wants to draw you into more of those moments of joy and pleasure. Through Christ and his finished work on the cross, there is nothing keeping you from experiencing God’s joy, peace and presence.
Prayer: Father, help me experience more of your joy. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth and in my life as it is already in heaven.
A few months ago, Christian comedian Michael Jr. put on a show at our church, and it was hilarious!
Here’s a small snippet for you to enjoy. Don’t forget to laugh!