(Preamble for the series repeated here for the first bit….) A joyful heart – a satisfied confidence and/or an unrestrained expression of enthusiasm or delight!
We strive for it, cultivate it, anticipate it, benefit from it, laugh with it, cry with it, have fun with it, radiate it, simply enjoy it – joyfulness is God’s design for us!
As I was preparing for this year of writing, I looked up some Bible verses which have (or could be translated) the word “joyful” in them. That little study, while scrawled on a couple of papers at my desk, is to be shared on this post or ones that follow through this year.
April – When my soul is satisfied in God’s character, that results in bringing me joy and in radiating it to others.
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.
Psalm 5:11 NKJV
And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; It shall rejoice in His salvation.
Psalm 35:9 NKJV
In the previous devotional (part 1 of this “A Joyful Heart” series here), I mentioned that we can’t always rejoice at the things around us (nor do we need to). But those who put their trust in the all-sufficient God can remain joyful IN HIM – Who He is. Think of the characteristics of God – they are so many – love, gracious, strength, merciful, kindness, justice, perfect, holy, compassionate, His Spirit indwelling believers in Jesus Christ (never leaving us), etc.. We can be secure in His promises to be sovereignly all-powerful and all-knowing to allow or do what is best when we are surrendered to Him – when we trust Him (Ps. 5:11, above). We don’t see the whole picture but God does. And we can still remain reassured of His personal care for us as individuals. The Bible teaches these concepts in many verses. Here are a couple of them:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 NKJV
Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
1 Peter 4:19 NKJV
When I was a student many years ago, one of my prayers was that God would give me “beautiful feet”. Now that prayer wasn’t about my physical toes but rather about letting God’s character shine through me so that others would notice a difference and ask about the hope I had in my life (e.g. 1 Peter 3:15). I so much wanted them to know the peace that God brings but it wasn’t like I talked about it constantly because there were other topics of conversation about our studies. (Can I say here that one doesn’t need to talk constantly about their faith in God? You can do a word search for the word “always” in the Bible and see phrases like being mindful always of God, praying always, being always thankful, etc. but when it comes to direct speech, God says to always be ready to give an answer, not that we’re expected to talk always. I think this topic can also apply to how we homeschool and integrate our faith into daily life as a Christian family too but that discussion is elsewhere on this website.)
“…As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”
Romans 10:15 NKJV
I took a sewing class as an elective one semester in a Catholic college which was part of the secular university I was attending. One day, when the professor had left the room briefly, us ladies were busily sewing at our machines and chatting as a group. I wasn’t paying much attention until I heard my name as an older student spoke from the other side of the group of machines. She referred to my name saying that it “fit well” because I was “so joyful” but wanted to know WHY I was joyful and just “radiating/shining with joy”?! (She was sure it wasn’t just because of my name and the others agreed. There was something different and they wanted to know about it. Would I please tell them?) I looked up a bit surprised but was delighted to talk about how a personal relationship with Christ had made that difference in my life – He lived in me because I had asked Him to! (cf. Ephesians 3:17). I had come to Jesus directly, repented of my sins, and put my trust in Him for my salvation. There was a small discussion as I explained a bit more and then the ladies were quiet, pondering what I had said that they too could know God in a personal way and have His joy, peace, salvation, and then our professor returned. Think back to a time(s) in your own life when God has answered your prayers to radiate His joy – it’s encouraging to remember Him working through you and using you to be a blessing to others!
When we focus our overall lives on knowing Him and wanting Him to work in our lives, we don’t crave/hunger for as many fleeting and temporary things in this life. And the joyfulness that we express as a result, is God’s character shining through our lives. We are remembering Him more, getting to know Him more, thinking of Him more and what He might be doing, regardless of the happy or bleak circumstances we are facing. Our focus is off of the stuff that doesn’t matter as much now or in our future on this earth or in eternity. We still pay a good attention to life around us (e.g. sewing) but we don’t expect it to be as important in comparison to knowing and showing who our Lord is. Our world doesn’t have to fall apart when circumstances change because our foundation of joy isn’t resting on those circumstances. Truly knowing Him in a humble and faith relationship brings salvation; it satisfies our souls and brings joy!