A Mandate for Joy
I believe the Lord is declaring this verse over His people, “The ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away”(Isaiah 35:10).
It seems in general that there is an increased amount of reasons in the earth to be downcast, disheartened, discouraged and depressed. I believe more than ever we are going to need the joy that is talked about in this verse. This joy and gladness is not only to strengthen us but it is being given by the Lord to counteract and destroy sorrow and sighing. The sadness has been in response to many hard things, but now the Lord is bringing a flood of joy that is directly related to the release of His presence (Psalm 16:11). This joy is available to us so that we begin to live from the inside. We need to let the inward joy of Heaven within us completely overwhelm and defuse the negative and hard pressures that surrounds us.
Joy Over Despair
When Corrie Tenboom was asked how she dealt with the horrors of the Nazi concentration camp that she and her family were in, she responded simply, “Joy runs deeper than despair.” We need to see joy as not just a supernatural remedy for the hard things we face, but as part of our divine inheritance as Believers. The thing about joy is that it is not connected directly to circumstances. Unlike happiness that is connected to a happening, joy is something else altogether. It is a heavenly spiritual gift, as well as a fruit of the Spirit. The word happy is mentioned six times in the New Testament, but the word joy is mentioned 60 times; 10 times as much. I think the emphasis of Scripture is on joy. In this life we were never designed to handle life’s low points within our own strength. Nehemiah 8:10says, “For the joy of the LORD is your strength.” We are designed to b
e receivers of God’s joy in tough times in order to receive the strength to see us through.
A Serious Matter – Mandated Joy
This is something that God is very passionate about. You might say that God is very serious about joy and gladness. He is so serious that He is not offering this to us as an option, but a mandate. This serious tone is reflected in Deuteronomy 28:47-48, “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies…”
The rest of these verses give a strong indication that our refusing to serve the Lord with joy will open the door for unbelief that leads to a poverty spirit operating in our lives. Some would say, “But those are Old Testament verses.” Then how about New Testament ones like, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). Or “For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
Our Father in Heaven loves us immensely and does not want us to live in a continual state of sadness, negativity, unbelief and a critical spirit. We were created for so much more than this. I also believe that serving with the absence of joy cripples us in our effectiveness to minister to and reach others. What drew me to Christ was the fact that I was surrounded by Believers with genuine joy which caused me to know that they had something I did not have.
What is it that people see when they look at us? Do they see the negativity or do they see joy? We must rise up again and return to the joy of the Lord. I remember I had about a five-year season in my life that I lived devoid of the joy of the Lord. It wasn’t something that happened overnight but gradually joy left my life. I then heard a message about the “joy of the Lord” and it hit me. I repented and asked God to refill me with His joy and determined from that day on I would not lose it again. We must choose joy.
When we talk about choosing joy, does that mean that we will never experience grieving, sorrow, disappointment and discouragement again? No, not likely. Does it mean that we are in some kind of denial to reality and are not facing things truthfully? Not if we have real joy. It does mean that the life of God living inside of us will bring a joy that will carry us through. David said in Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” God doesn’t always remove us from the circumstances but He promises His presence, manifested through joy, will see us through.
Some may say, “Yeah but you don’t know what I’m going through or what I’m facing. It is not going to be fixed by a decision by me to just choose joy.” Choosing JOY is a good starting point to begin to align yourself with God and believe that He is good. So today why don’t we take the first step and choose joy.