Joy is the fruit of a right relation with God. It is not something people can create by their own efforts. Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. (Henri J.M. Nouwen) We must deliberately extend joy to others each day. Smile at people, greet them, make time for them, take friends to lunch, and show others images of beauty and works of literature. If Anne Frank, who suffered so much, can say, “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains”, than we should be able to say the same and not just say it, but live it too. Listen to Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hanh, “The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Joy is found in the present moment. If we are concerned about the past or looking into the future joy cannot be with us. When we are aware and live in the present than we can have joy.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
“The point is our joy. That is when God is most pleased. They are not two different things: God’s Joy… our joy. They are the same. The kind of joy God speaks of transcends… struggles and difficulties.” (Rob Bell) There is real deep joy to experience as a Christian. A Christian should be an Alleluia from head to foot. (Saint Augustine) The gospel tells us that no matter what we have done or haven’t done God loves us anyway and wants us to glorify and enjoy Him forever. God is worthy of praise from every mouth, confession from every tongue, worship from every creature. How glorious, how magnificent the name of God, father, son, and Holy Spirit: Who created and who sustains the world in His grace and by His compassion saved and saves the world. There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice. (John Calvin) God doesn’t need us and that is why Jesus dying naked and shivering on a cross is so amazing. Jesus forsook heaven to reconcile all of creation (not just Christians) to God that is the gospel the good news. God wants a personal relationship with us, God acts and we respond—we say yes or no. Our answer doesn’t change God. It changes us.
Joy demands a response. It is urgent that we respond to God in this life. I believe that God’s grace is sufficient for our needs, but this life the one we are living now is all we got, we need to respond to God and trust that God will handle the rest. We have an important choice to make. How we respond to the cross of Christ is the first step.
We need to remember that God is in control. We are not. We don’t have to worry about things working out or not. God will handle it all. We just need to respond in sane, healthy, and loving ways to life. It’s not our job to worry about the future. We simply do the will of God. We simply live life to the full. We simply worship and glorify God in all we do. When we value what God has bestowed onto us and who we really are, God will entrust us with more. God will give us more to do and more to become.
Too much energy is wasted by fretting over how we will do what needs doing. We simply show up and God will handle the rest. My experience is that I get so nervous that I either shut down or shy away from what needs to be done. When I stand up and show up, I find that the doing for the most part is done almost by itself.
Just think of the many moments that have overwhelmed you: gazing on a lover or your children, reading an awesome piece of literature, watching the sunrise or set, a blazing rainbow glow across the sky, listening to a moving piece of music. God sees, hears, and touches all these and so much more constantly. As one reporter once noted, “Towering clouds of gases trillions of miles high, backlit by nuclear fires in newly forming stars, galaxies cart wheeling into collision and sending explosive shock waves boiling through millions of light-years of time and space.”
God bathes in joy. We in turn should be happy whenever possible. I find each day that happiness is more possible than not, even when we are suffering happiness is there waiting for us to embrace and share it.