Last week, I wrote an article about Christians and joy. Do you remember how the Apostle Paul encouraged us to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4), but that often seems impossible? I said we need to guard against anxiety and fear (Philippians 4:5). However, the Joy-Snatcher has some relatives we need to guard against as well.
Let’s start with Cousin Comparison, nicknamed “Covetousness.” The Hebrew writer encourages us to “Be content with what you have,” (Hebrews 13:5), and Paul reminds us, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). It’s not easy! We are constantly bombarded with advertisements designed to make us want more, more, more. Be on guard!
Cynicism is a close cousin. Cynicism throws cold water on the flames of joy: “It won’t last!” “What’s the catch?” Put cynicism back in its place if you want to be happy! Learn to live in the moment. “Yes, the oceans are rising, but, for right now, I’m going to enjoy the beach.” Do you remember Saul’s daughter Michal? David was dancing with joy before the Lord, and joyless Michal could only watch from her window and sneer:
“And as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and celebrating, and she despised him in her heart” (1 Chronicles 15:29).
Contented, joyful Christians have learned to celebrate the little moments of life. Is your grandbaby singing “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” over and over again? Don’t let it drive you to distraction. Join in and sing! Joy celebrates life!
“But John, I don’t have time right now!” Meet the twins: busyness and over-commitment. Do you ever feel like, “It’s all up to me”? Even something as simple as a lack of sleep can rob us of joy. Hurry-sickness is real! Who sits in their rocking chair at the old folks home and laments that they didn’t (fill in the blank)? What do they regret? That they didn’t spend more time with friends and family. That they never learned to do the Lindy. That they didn’t hold hands with their true love and watch the stars come out.
Finally, what is the opposite of joy? Sorrow? No, Paul said he was “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing,” (2 Corinthians 6:10), and he declared, “I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction,” (2 Corinthians 7:4 NASB). A wise but unknown person observed, “The opposite of joy is not sorrow; it is unbelief.” Satan tempts us into suspecting, “God doesn’t really know what’s best for me or what will make me happy.” But the Apostle wrote:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).