Where is the Joy?
Where is the Joy?
We have all discovered different ways to manage the lie-based pain in our lives. Some of the more common methods include denial, suppression, putting the past behind us, denying what we feel, self-medicating (e.g. eating when we are not hungry), using anger to protect ourselves from vulnerable feelings, and even acts of religious/spiritual performance.
We all desire to know real peace (a fruit of the Spirit) and to be free of the troublesome emotions that hinder us from living life to its fullest. Jesus has promised us life and peace. When the Apostle Paul prayed, “May the Lord of peace Himself grant you peace in EVERY circumstance” (2 Thessalonians 3:16) he was all inclusive. “Every” is an all-encompassing word. It means in every circumstance; we have the potential of knowing the peace that Christ gives always. If we do not have peace in every circumstance, we need to ask, “Why not?” We feel whatever we believe. Where there is an absence of peace it is because we believe something that is contrary to knowing peace. Peace follows truth. When I know truth, I will walk in peace.
The Scriptures encourage us to “… Consider it (suffering and trials) all joy …” (James 1) and to “Rejoice in the Lord always…” (Phil. 4:4) and yet so often we cannot feel the joy. What is the problem? Some try harder to rejoice, others just deny what they feel and put on the appearance of being joyful. But is this the joy that is a fruit of the spirit? Trying to make ourselves rejoice is like trying to make ourselves laugh. We cannot do it. We laugh when we believe something is funny. Laughter is a spontaneous expression that is triggered by our believing something is humorous. Experiencing the fruit of joy is similar. When we believe the truth in our hearts we will experience the joy of the Lord. It is the Lord’s joy because it is produced by His Spirit flowing from the truth.
Fruit is spontaneously produced when the right criteria are met. I have several fruit trees in my yard. I have never witnessed any of them straining and groaning, trying to produce fruit. It is the same for us. What we believe in our hearts will manifest itself in our behavior—not what we believe to be true intellectually, but what we KNOW to be the truth experientially. When we know the truth in our hearts with absolute certainty, we will walk in faith and the fruit will come forth.