People love laughing, and there is a wide range of media to present comical content. Videos, shows and memes all make people laugh. I personally am a fan of Dad jokes, but I figured I might lose some of my readership audience if I started with that.
Happiness is good. We enjoy being around people who make us laugh. Laughter can be the expression of joy that we have inside. We like the feel-good feelings – rich foods, sweet scents, pleasant sounds. Those are good gifts that we can relax and delight in.
The problem arises when our perception of joy becomes warped. There are times when we cling tightly to our joy. We treat joy like coffee, this high that we have to be on, brewing cups upon cups to keep up the feel-good energy. When we see the grinds we have to find more. We have to go to parties to have friends, we have to binge-watch tv, we have to eat some ice cream. This cyclic demand of maintaining our own joy becomes draining instead of rejuvenating. It’s exhausting.
Or our perception of joy is warped differently. It’s something we haven’t experienced or don’t experience. It’s Miss Sunshine-and-Rainbow’s day, but not yours. It’s the façade of the optimist – but you’re a realist. Maybe you see your mission from God as the suffering single. You’re the sacrificial servant, obligatory president of Habitat for Humanity, back stage for “A Doll’s House”.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It is the reflection of the Spirit in you and a gift from God. The Spirit is greater than the temptations of the flesh. So if your flesh is craving control, or whispering to you that you aren’t good enough, the Lord is calling you to something better.
What is the joy? It’s what is sung in Psalm 126, “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.” It is God’s restoration of people. His promise of bringing us home.
In Nehemiah 8:9-12 the people grieve as they hear the Word of the Lord. They have fallen short. Ezra though, has different plans. He tells them to celebrate and rejoice, not because they have fallen short, but because they know the Word.
With this power, the knowledge of our restoration into His kingdom, we have a lot to gain. In thankfulness, acknowledging and appreciating His goodness in our life, we find joy. In our trails we can retain the joy, hope and anticipation in His love for us, for His glory to come. That’s reason to rejoice!
We can also have joy in celebration! Ezra sends the people away to eat and drink in community. Maintain joy in the blessings that have been bestowed on you. Be in a community that can support and love you in Christ through the celebrations and struggles. Host a gracious heart. See the love of the Lord. Choose joy!