Restoring the Joy

It’s Monday Grace!

I remember a teacher who said that the real goal of the Christian should not be happiness but joy. Joy, he said, came to the believer despite the things going on in the world. There’s something to that, of course, but this teacher then proceeded to wipe away most of the happiness of the Christian life. People under this teaching often said things like, “I know it is God’s will for me if it makes me miserable.” “If I am unhappy in this life, I know I will be joyful in the next.” One man spoke truth from the heart when he said, “Every time I go to one of these conferences, I come away feeling worse.”

The idea of this teaching is that happiness is tied to the moment, to the circumstances. “Happenstance,” the teacher said, “is temporary. Joy is forever.” Suffering today leads to more joy tomorrow. He suggested that suffering was the primary condition of the Christian life. Unhappiness. Then, joy later.

Joy without happiness is like clouds without rain. What’s the point?

Oh, I know that joy can be something deeper than our circumstances. In the midst of trouble, even chronic and worrisome trouble, there can be joy in our hearts. To know the love of Jesus is to know joy.

But our joy is the source of our happiness. Even if happiness is tied to our circumstances (which it does not need to be) we can reach back to the joy in our hearts and find happiness again. We overcome the suffering when we remember our joy.

And someone says, “That’s nice. Not very realistic, but nice. I wish it were true.”

But you and I have seen the truth of this. We have known many people who have gone through very tough times, times that would challenge anyone’s happiness, and we have heard their words of joy and seen the smiles on their faces. They fight cancer, knowing that their battle may be futile, trudging through the indignities and pains of treatments, and they are gracious and positive and thankful to the people around them. They not only find happiness for themselves, but they have enough to share with others.

This is the legacy of grace. When I know that I have nothing to do to measure up to God’s standards, that Jesus has done it all, I can relax. The pain of the moment cannot deny or destroy the truth. I am deeply loved, fully accepted, and greatly blessed by Jesus.

I often tell my congregation that we have it made. Whatever happens in this cruel world, there is good for us in Jesus. This world is not our home. The things we gather and protect will all be left behind. The broken relationships with other believers will all be healed. Nothing, not even our own stupidity, can snatch us out of the hand of the Lord who loves us. And that makes all of us smile.

Let Jesus restore the joy of your heart with His grace. And let the joy of your heart restore your happiness in challenging times. The Christian life is not one of suffering (even though we may suffer), it is a life of joy.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Restoring the Joy

  1. Pamela

    The Christian life is not one of suffering (even though we may suffer), it is a life of joy. This is an Awesome bottom line statement. I LOVE it. Thank you, Pastor Dave.

  2. AnneG

    One day in class at my Catholic grammar school, the nun teacher asked the class to raise your hand if you’re happy. I think at least half of us did. Then she started yelling at us that we shouldn’t be! That happiness was only supposed to come to us in heaven. I had a hard time with that then and I’m not sure it was exactly what the Catechism taught. I am no longer Catholic.

    I have always felt joy, even when my life hasn’t been going well. There is joy in the beauties of nature, in children, in all areas of life. It’s just that some people don’t seem to have the capacity to see it or feel it. I remember talking about this in college with a group of girls in my dorm and it made me sad that the majority of them rarely or never had that feeling of transcendence that I often felt. Just the sight of a beautiful fall tree makes my heart soar. I wonder if it’s genetic.

  3. I loved this so much, I had to read it again. “Whatever happens in this cruel world, there is good for us in Jesus. This world is not our home. The things we gather and protect will all be left behind. The broken relationships with other believers will all be healed. Nothing, not even our own stupidity, can snatch us out of the hand of the Lord who loves us.” – – Praise God for His amazing grace!!

  4. Mark

    This is part of the huge bait and switch in many Evangelical churches. People are told, do x and you will be happy. Patriarchy within marriages comes to mind. When marriage isn’t happy, then it’s either (1) you’re not doing it right, try harder, or when they finally are forced to acknowledge the truth, (2) marriage is not intended for happiness, but holiness. Again, holiness is the world of suffering and anguish that a Christian must endure – at the hand of other Christians, no less, to secure proper standing in Heaven. Even Piper, the father of modern Complementarianism, acknowledged that comp. marriages are generally not happy, so parents should pretend to be happy lest their children stray from the doctrine.

  5. Hope

    Mark, you have described a sad state of things. It is interesting to me that you are a man observing them. Patriarchy seems to give all the power to the husband. In the church we left, lip service was given to him loving his wife like Christ loves the church, but if he isn’t loving, wife is to win him “without a word,” and submit in silence.

    What an amazing thing for a marriage it would be if husband really did love, honor and cherish his bride, just as he vowed to do. With such a husband, a wife, at least this wife, could be happy. Such a marriage could make a home like a garden where people grow and flourish.

    I think Piper and teachers like the ones we have been hearing offer a Christianity that is like a western movie set: it looks like a building but there is nothing there. I would much rather my children stray from miserable doctrines than to stray from Christ, which most of them have done.

    Reading this blog is part of the renewing of my mind that God is doing. Thank you, Pastor Orrison.

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