Joy

By Melody Green Sievright

One of the most wonderful things about knowing Jesus Christ-besides spending all eternity with Him-is that His Holy Spirit helps us face any circumstance with genuine joy in our hearts.

But what exactly is this joy? And how do we tap into it?

The joy that comes from the Holy Spirit can range from a quiet sense of well-being to an exuberant gladness expressed in singing, clapping, dancing or even loud victory cheers! But only God can produce true joy in our lives. It can’t be manufactured by our own efforts.

As a new believer, I read in Nehemiah: “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (8:10). I thought, Great! When I’m happy about God, He’ll make me strong. But Nehemiah wasn’t talking about generating our own joy. Rather, he was saying that we can draw spiritual strength by receiving God’s joy as our own!

I didn’t understand then that God Himself is true joy. So, since joy is part of God’s nature, and since He’s building His nature in us, we’re heirs to His joy-regardless of our circumstances.

Seven years after I accepted Christ, my husband, Keith Green, and two of our little children went home to be with Jesus in an airplane crash. During my season of grieving, I needed God like never before. I was devastated and completely stripped of my own strength. I threw myself at the foot of the cross, begging God for help and mercy.

As I clung to Jesus, He strengthened me. And amid my sorrow, I made an important discovery: Despite my pain and loss, I could still experience the joy of my salvation.

Did I feel like singing and dancing? No way! I was grieving, but I realized that nothing could steal my eternal inheritance in the Lord. Though I was walking through the fire, my God was with me-and in that I could rejoice.

Life is sometimes painful, and no simple answers exist for the difficulties we encounter. But I’ve discovered that true joy doesn’t depend on our outward circumstances; it depends on our inward
responses. And when we learn to see our lives from God’s perspective, we can tap into the strength that comes from His joy.

God’s Perspective

Heaven is permeated with the joy of the Lord. Jesus said all the hosts of heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7). Think of it! The joyful, angelic outbursts must be like celestial fireworks when
people yield to God.

Zephaniah 3:17 says: “The Lord…will rejoice over you with singing” (NKJV). The Hebrew word for “rejoice” literally means “to spin around.” So God rejoices over His people with dancing, with singing, with shouts of joy! Can you imagine?

The Lord and His heavenly throng aren’t blind to the suffering, injustice and sin on earth. Yet overriding joy grips them when one soul is delivered from the chains of sin and death. This should be our response too.

A Last Days outreach team just returned from Russia where they ministered at an orphanage. The deprivation and despair they saw broke their hearts. One little girl named Anya wept throughout the worship and gospel drama. Later she said, “I have two fathers. The one I have now doesn’t love me.”

After that service, Anya received Christ along with 20 other children. When our team visited the orphanage a few days later, they found Anya-and her new brothers and sisters in Christ-radiant with joy!

Anya and her friends now have a Father who loves them. As our staff in Texas heard this story, we wept and cheered, sharing in God’s joy with those Russian children half a world away.

Foretaste of Heaven

If all of heaven rejoices over our salvation, how much more should we rejoice in that miraculous reality? But during difficult times, it’s hard to experience the joy of our salvation. Our struggle often stems
from not seeing things from God’s point of view.

As Christians, this present world is not our home. We’re en route to the most spectacular wedding in the history of the universe. Our Bridegroom is preparing us for that day by working His character into
our lives. Though the process sometimes hurts, Jesus will turn each trial into a brilliant jewel for the crown that we’ll toss joyfully at His feet.

That eternal perspective is the key to true joy. My Aunt Minnie, for example, was raised as an Orthodox Jew. When cancer struck her body, a few girls from Last Days drove her to chemotherapy three times a week for months. My aunt called them her little angels and was so touched by their love and inner peace that she gave her heart to Jesus.

As the cancer spread, Aunt Minnie suffered terribly. During one of my visits, she began weeping because she couldn’t use her hand. “Minnie,” I said, “if the Lord decides to take you home, He’ll give you a new
body. You’ll be whole-and out of pain.” We prayed and felt His peace fill the room.

A few days later, my aunt died. I was reminded of Psalm 16: “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (v.11). God did not heal Minnie’s physical body, but she gained the ultimate healing: eternal life with her Messiah. Her sickness led her to the Lord because she didn’t harden her heart in her suffering, but responded to God’s love.

I’m convinced that God is more concerned about how we respond to trials than He is about how long it takes us to get through them. James tells us: “Count it al] joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (1:2-3). We can “count it all joy”-not because we’re happy about the trial-but because we have an opportunity for spiritual growth.

One day, when this present world is obliterated and we’re kneeling at the throne of God, we’ll see what God had in His heart for us all along. When our momentary afflictions are passed and our tears are
wiped away, we’ll experience indescribable joy for eternity in the presence of God. And we’ll rejoice for every opportunity we had to let God work His heart and mind into our lives.

Even now, through faith in Christ, we can experience a foretaste of that heavenly joy. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can enter into the joy of our salvation and the glory yet to come!

(The above information was published by CHARISMA, May 1993)

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