Read His Words Before Ours!
Happiness is a feeling, and as feelings go, they seem to change at the snap of a finger.
If you are like me, my feelings seem to be altered simply by the weather’s shift.
I’m no doctor, and I haven’t been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but its description seems to fit the bill. Cloudy and overcast equals the blues. Sunshine and bright skies equal lifted spirits.
God’s Word offers a stabilizing anchor to my swinging tides of happiness in the richness of life-giving, always sustainable joy.
Unlike the emotion of happiness, joy is a fruit of the Spirit. This fruit grows over time as I daily surrender my life to Him and feast on His Word. I cannot do this in my own strength. There might be some benefit to ‘smile every hour to make yourself happier’, but this is not the fruit of lasting joy. One cannot simply “choose” to bear the fruit of joy. Rather, true and lasting joy is built through God’s character flourishing in our lives as we plant ourselves deep in the fertile soil of total surrender and dependence on Him.
“His (God’s) divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”
(2 Peter 1:3, emphasis mine)
When I am unhappy, there may be some hormonal or chemical imbalance, but largely, my unhappiness results from my lack of abiding in Scripture. All of God’s Word is true all the time. We must trust God’s Word above our feelings.
I want to shout with the Psalmist,
“You reveal the path of life to me;
in Your presence is abundant joy;
at Your right hand are eternal pleasures.”
(Psalm 16:11, emphasis mine)
Sisters, hear me, I need to shout that to myself even if, or especially when, I don’t necessarily feel joyful. When we don’t feel joyful, how can we align our hearts with the fruit God is surely working in us? In His presence.
Jesus said of our insistent abiding in His presence and obedient following,
“I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11) Abiding in God’s Word, talking with Him in prayer, and obeying His commands opens the floodgate for His joy to be built in us!
Similarly, Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
I’ve known and experienced the truth of these promises,
but I too often forget and go my own way.
I allow my feelings to dictate how I feel,
rather than the truth of God’s Word.
I will choose to binge watch TV, or neglect my Bible reading in exchange for more sleep rather than the eternal pleasure of God’s joy being built in me. No fleeting happiness will bring true, lasting joy. Temporary delights provide an adrenaline high to be sure, but are destined to crash and fall into the ever-lacking, supremely joyless reality of a life wrought by following my own way.
I would be lying if I told you there are no slivers of joy apart from Christ. The truth is that God graciously allows all people to experience portions of His joy in this life, but only believers in Christ can experience true, complete, lasting joy.
Maybe you feel tossed around by happiness or the lack thereof. Let’s take our cue from David’s confident song and Christ’s rich invitation, knowing the Holy Spirit will craft His joy in us as we surrender.
Let’s choose to abide with Him and receive the completeness of His joy.
Choose to believe God at His Word and find His joy that wins over feelings.
I can’t guarantee you’ll feel instant joy.
And I can’t guarantee that feeling of joy in abiding will stay with you when you wake up the next day. But we can rest on the assurance of Christ’s truth that when we abide, He grows His fruit of joy in us, regardless of how we feel from one snap of our fingers to the next.
We must preach truth to ourselves!
Christ, on the cross, substituted Himself in the place of sinners like you and me and He paid the penalty of death that our sin deserves.
He lived a perfect, sinless life despite hardship and persecution.
He did this, for the joy set before Him. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
That joy? It was the joy of bringing sinners home to be with Him forever in order to give glory and praise to God for all of eternity.
Christ knew that eternal joy would come through His sacrificial death. He achieved this joy by His victory over the grave and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. If we are in Christ, this joy is ours and His Spirit increasingly grows it within us.
Nothing, neither grief nor struggle, sickness or death can steal His lasting joy away.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!