One thing that has always bothered me in my Christian life is my tendency to base my well-being, satisfaction and joy on things that are temporary. Maybe you can relate with me? The good times come and go, happiness fades in and out, and life simply becomes an ebb and flow of good or bad emotions, feelings and experiences. I’ve noticed that people, myself included, will do just about anything to find lasting joy. We’ll try new relationships, pick up new hobbies and even move to new places in hopes of changing the grim outlook and feeling of despair we have towards life. We want more than anything for there to be something or someone that will truly satisfy us. In the end, we just want to know everything will be OK.
In John Chapter fifteen Jesus tells his disciples, in the face of his own suffering, the key to having a life filled with Joy. He says in verse 9, ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.’
To abide means to adhere to, to trust in, and to be connected with. To abide in the love of Christ means first to really believe that God loves you. To believe not in the pithy coffee-cup ‘Jesus Loves Me’ way, but rather in the heart melting realization and acceptance that in spite of all your flaws, screw ups, failures, the people you’ve hurt, etc. that God in heaven looks at you with nothing but a smile on his face, and with gladness in his heart. A belief and trust that your primary identity in this life is not what you do or what’s been done to you, but rather it’s your status as a loved child of the most high God. To Abide in Christ is to truly, and actively believe this.
In verse 11, he says ‘These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.’
True and lasting joy starts with a secure identity as a loved child of God.
When you know the deep love He has for you, and when you get to the place where you can actually call Him Abba, it changes the way you view this life. It creates a joy inside you that allows you to trust Him and His plan for you even when things seem hopeless. It gives you the strength to endure suffering, and even a longing to look back in time and search for His hand at work in your life.
If you’re struggling to be joyful, be reminded today that God, the creator of heaven of Earth loves you. He wants you. He’s glad to call you son or daughter. He’s glad to forgive you and can’t wait to be with you forever. He feels your pain and knows your struggles and is walking with you through them. There is an end to all this. Believe.
I encourage you, if you aren’t already, to commit faithfully to a local gospel-preaching church. Get involved with other believers who can walk this life with you, encourage you, pray for you, and build you up. The love of God for people is best seen and experienced in community. Hearing about and seeing God work in the lives of those around us is powerful and can help remind us of the amazing love that He has for us. Remember He is never far from you. Trust in Him, and remember daily the love He has for you—this where you will find Joy.