A couple of years ago I read an article from the ABS about what makes Australians happy. Without quoting a whole lot of statistics and percentages, the happiest people are ones who manage to meet their weekly goals and accomplish the tasks they set out to do.
The happiest of Aussies don’t smoke but enjoy a love of alcohol. The happiest place to live is Sydney. They have jobs and a higher education. They’re married. Even single people rated higher than divorced and separated couples. Happy people love to exercise and are aged between 18-39. (sorry to all you oldies out there) And just to let you all know, I still fit into this happy category. So all in all, here’s to the young, fit, in love and binge drinking people among us!!
Searching for meaning in our lives is often a lifelong journey. But what’s actually out there to help us discover joy? For we often seek after it but are we ever fulfilled? We pursue it but sometimes our effort’s in vain. And society seems to want to make us think that money, sex or material things will compensate for joy and happiness, which ends up seeing people more disappointed than when they began.
But where does our joy come from as Christians? Do we understand the biblical interpretation of true joy? That is; true joy should be expressed in a way that displays a natural response when we know Jesus, love him, seek him and are touched by the Holy Spirit. To know that God is indeed the king of the world (unlike Jack Dawson who shouted this from the bow of the Titanic).
Christ’s victory over sin and death should make us want to be joyful in all situations for we’re told in Philippians 4:4 to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice” and also 1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us to “rejoice always“, meaning we should keep doing it over and over again and never stop.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:9-11. Joy is the evidence of the presence of God in our lives. it says here it completes our lives. Joy is a vital part of our Christian character. It isn’t an optional extra when it comes to being a Christian. And we’re not called to rejoice in earthly riches or material possessions. If we’re called to ‘rejoice always,’ it has to be in something that is eternal and everlasting. If we start practising now, then we’re going to be prepared when we get to heaven aren’t we?
So then how are we to respond? Well, maintain your joy. Even during the ups and downs of everyday life. Even when our steps feel heavy and trials and persecution come our way. Remember, the command is to rejoice in the Lord always. The apostle Paul who gave this command knew what it meant to suffer for the sake of the gospel. He knows about all our sins and regrets. Yet he commands us to rejoice always. Knowing what Christ’s done for us, it should make our hearts filled with a joy and desire to live our lives for him. Whatever definition of joy we have, it should be big enough to include God in it. Every attribute of God revealed to us will make our hearts sing. Every part of the gospel should make us shout to the world with gladness and praise. Let our hearts pour out with joy to the Lord as we meditate on the grace he’s shown us and the future hope that awaits us.