Joy is an act of faith these days. Maybe it always is. Everywhere we look, we see tragedy, pain, and loss. How can we possibly find joy in the midst of all of this sorrow? The answer is given in the passage of Scripture below. But before we get to that, we need to understand that the Bible calls us to a whole new way of thinking. It is this new way of thinking that allows for the possibility of joy in the midst of a fallen world.
Read Psalm 16:8-11 carefully:
"I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
First of all, it is clear that joy starts with focusing on God. "I will keep my eyes always on the Lord." This seems so impractical in today's world, and yet it has never been so needed. We are distracted by hundreds of other things clamoring for our attention. But as we learned last week in the story about Mary sitting at Jesus' feet, only one thing is needed. If we start our day by sitting in the presence of Jesus, we are much more likely to focus on God throughout the day. Even as we do our normal activities, we can still be in an attitude of prayer. We can keep God in view all day long.
A few days ago, I was starting my day in the presence of God as I normally do. And I realized that this was where my real joy comes from. I felt a joy that was much deeper than happiness and much more peaceful than pleasure. I believe I experienced firsthand what Psalm 16 is talking about. It was an amazing experience. I believe that this kind of experience is always available to us. It requires that we come before God. Then we can say with the Psalmist, "You make known to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence." If your outward circumstances are not going well for you right now, embrace it as an opportunity to look to God for joy. The joy that comes from God's presence is constant and much more dependable than anything else in this world.
I would invite you this week to make it a daily habit to enter into the presence of God. Feel the joy and peace that is there. And then, fix your eyes on God throughout the day. As you go through your day, do everything in an attitude of prayer. Let go of all of your cares and just trust God. Do what needs to be done with joy in your heart.
May you experience God's joy this week.