Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Jesus Stand Among Us"1 (Lyrics)
Nehemiah 8:10 – Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (NIV)
Psalm 98:4-8 – Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn — shout for joy before the Lord, the King. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy. (NIV)
I have a problem with joy. It's supposed to be a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and since I have believed in Jesus Christ, I have the Holy Spirit within me. So, I should feel His joy, right? You guessed it: I don't. Or do I? Maybe I'm confusing it with "happiness".
Nehemiah told the people of Israel that the joy of the Lord was their strength and that they were to celebrate it. The joy of the Lord was their strength. And the psalmist told the people in this festival psalm that they were to shout for joy, just as the sea and the mountains and the rivers expressed their joy.
Hmmm. As Christians, we believe that God the Father created the universe through Jesus His Son with the help of the Holy Spirit. Our God created it all, including us human beings, just because He wanted to. It gave Him great pleasure to do it. Is that why the psalmist could give human characteristics to rivers, mountains, the sea and everything in it — the whole world — and say that they are to show their joy? If joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, then our God must be full of joy. Jesus Himself was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 12:2b – For the joy set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NIV)
It was His joy that gave Him strength. And so, it is His joy that sustains everything, because He keeps everything in this universe going.
So maybe I do have the fruit of the joy of the Holy Spirit within me, since our God made me — us — with joy, and sustains us with joy, too, like the rest of the universe. Maybe all I have to do to feel that joy is to surrender to Him, once again, everything that works to steal that joy. All we have to do is to surrender to the Holy Spirit everything that works to steal His joy from us, whenever pain and hurt and sorrow muscle in to our lives. Then, we will have His joy for ourselves. Thanks be to God!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we come to You with everything that steals the joy of the Holy Spirit away from us. We surrender it all to You, and ask that You take care of all the problems, all the difficulties, all the hurts, and all their causes. We ask that You would fill us with Your Holy Spirit instead, that we may know Your joy. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.