In the midst of our pursuit of God, we can sometimes focus so much on the seriousness of discipleship that we miss out on the joy of our life with God. Of course, there are good reasons for that.
First of all, Jesus called us to take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Him. That is a serious call. Second, in this world we at times encounter suffering or difficulty, neither of which are light or easy. Thirdly, our discipleship is serious because, as Paul points out in his letter to the Ephesians, we are in the midst of a spiritual conflict.
Yet for all the seriousness of the pursuit of God, it is also true that God is the creator of joy. The ||40days|| journey reminds us that for all of the seriousness of following Jesus, it was Jesus Himself who said that following Him brings complete joy:
If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept 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 15:10-11)
This came to home to me recently as I read Paul’s words to the church in Philippi:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
Paul was no stranger to suffering. He even writes earlier in his letter to that same church:
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death. (Philippians 3:10)
We know that Paul suffered extreme physical and emotional hardships throughout his itinerant ministry of church planting (2 Corinthians 11:16-29). Even in his sufferings, however, Paul knew the joy of Jesus.
We should also consider David’s thankful assurance before God in Psalm 16:
You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)
C. S. Lewis once wrote, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” Part of God’s aim is to overpower us with the joy of life in His presence. He is a God of joy for those who live in Him. Obviously, there are ups and downs in our days upon this earth. We may not always experience ease or happiness. Still, for all that, God is inviting us into the journey of joy with Him.
Are we accepting His invitation to live joyful?