I’m quite a chipper person.
My glass is generally half-full.
I tend to see the best in people.
I sincerely love life.
And I do laugh…
But I have to confess – this year has been hard! As previous posts have alluded to I have been through some pretty dark seasons of the mind and soul and while I am genuinely in pretty good shape at the mo, I am very aware that a dark cloud is never far away.
Sometimes it literally feels like I’m being stalked by sadness.
Trouble is – I’m not even sure why!
- My marriage is strong.
- My family is a blast.
- My health is…fair to middling!
- My finances are in order.
- My church family is fab.
- And I’m not harbouring any secret sin in my life.
So why does this happiness assassin keep showing up?
- Is it because I live in the anti-depressant prescription capital of the UK?
- Could it be the pressures of pastoral ministry?
- Perhaps I’m getting too emotionally involved with human trafficking?
- It is possible that I’m simply doing too much.
- Or as I turn 39 this month perhaps I’m just preempting the inevitable mid-life crisis!
Actually, God knows.
And while I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why things are as they are, God in His grace has blessed me with a means of standing strong and fighting back. In fact, He’s given me a secret weapon.
“What is that secret weapon?” I hear you cry.
Well, quite simply – my secret weapon is joy!
It’s like my buddy Nehemiah said:
“do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
– Nehemiah 8 v 10
So there you have it – all we need is the Lord’s joy and we’ll have all the strength we need to take the happiness assassin outta the game, right?!
So the question is how do we get the joy of the Lord? I mean Paul told us to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, but HOW?! How do we get our hands on this secret weapon?
Well, a few weeks ago the Lord handed me the key to the gun cabinet, and I’ve been buzzin ever since. Here’s the key:
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation”
– Psalm 51 v 12
Ultimate joy is found in God’s salvation, nowhere else!
When I seek joy in anything or anyone else I am setting myself up for a fall because everything and everyone else is broken, fractured and flawed.
- My wife is great, but she’s not perfect (neither am I!)
- My kids are epic, but they’re still little sinners.
- My health is deteriorating at a rate of knots!
- My money keeps getting spent.
- I love my ministry, but it involves people who, like me, are broken.
- And while sin has no dominion over me, I still regularly screw up.
But God’s salvation…that’s different! The blood of Jesus NEVER runs out! His forgiveness IS limitless. His love NEVER fails. His grace IS sufficient.
I still remember the day that Jesus saved me. I was 15 years old and as I surrendered my life to Him I experienced His mercy in a powerful, life-changing, future-shaping way.
I was clean.
I was accepted.
I was joyful.
I was home.
But sadly, that joy has not always remained with me.
To my shame, I think that when I experience a lack of joy it is directly linked to sin and a loss of wonder in the salvation of God. I think that’s where David got to when he prayed that God would restore the joy of His salvation in Psalm 51.
So here’s where I’ve landed – I need God’s help to stay fixated and fascinated by the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ:
“When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.”
– Charitie Lees Smith
My secret weapon is joy but it’s the gospel of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ that activates that joy. A single step away from the cross is a step towards joylessness, despair and a butt-kicking at the hands of the happiness assassin! Therefore humble repentance is the only way to lay hold of the secret weapon of God’s pure joy. And when I’ve got that joy, I feel invincible, because the source of my joy, Jesus, is invincible. And because His grave is empty my heart is full.
“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!”