Joy in the Morning

Sometimes we feel like the Christian life is simply one heart-breaking trial after another. We stoically recall verses like Romans 8:28 to remind ourselves that this turmoil is all for the best in the end. Don’t get me wrong. There definitely are trials for the believer, and God definitely works in every circumstance to bring good. But He doesn’t want our lives to be just one heartbreaking moment after another. Instead, he promises us joy—and not just in Heaven, but here on this earth. After all, it isn’t called the Gospel (Good News) for nothing.

 

The psalmist talks about this in Psalm 30:5, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

 

No matter how dark the night (and there will be some dark ones), God never leaves us, and He promises us joy in the morning after and a lifetime of His favor. He promises joy. Not just relief. Not just respite. But overflowing joy. The word “Joy” or its derivative is mentioned over 200 times in the Bible. God wants us to be joyful, and not to just look like we’re happy, but to actually be filled with joy. Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:22 that joy is a fruit of the Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit literally grows joy in our lives.

 

So, what is the key to cultivating this joy in our daily lives? I think Jesus’ words in John 15 give us a pretty good recipe:

 

10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

 

This passage has at its heart the promise of complete joy. Start by re-reading verse 11. The source of our joy is Jesus’ joy. That’s right, He is a joyful Savior, not the perpetual grief-stricken person we sometimes make Him into. He loves to laugh, and He wants us to be infected by His own joy. …that ours may be complete. But this passage is bookended by a repeated conditional clause: “If you keep my commands; if you do what I command.” So we see that our joy is dependent on obedience. Jesus further elaborates on this obedience: Love each other as I have loved you. For joy to be a way of life for us, we must obey Him, and this obedience is highlighte​d and reflected most by our love. Our love for Him and our love for each other. Love is the source of Jesus’ joy, and He wants us to receive, mirror, and share that love…so our Joy may be complete.

 

 

In Him,

Hal