Speaking to the Soul – April 3


How joyful are those who fear the Lord—all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labour. How joyful and prosperous you will be! Psalm 128:1-2

If we were sitting in a discussion group right now, I would love to ask you, and everyone else, what your definition of joy is. We will, I am sure, all agree that we want it, but I suspect we would come up with lots of different words to define it. Many would offer the word ‘happiness’; others might suggest contentment, peace, love, unity, freedom, wholeness, or many other words. I am sure that we would all agree that joy is something deep. It has lasting qualities. Joy is, of course, closely related to happiness. Some translations of these verses use that word. However, it is often the case that we use the word ‘happiness’ to describe our reaction to something that happens, and it can therefore be a fleeting experience. God’s joy is not like that because it depends upon a relationship – and so joy is as everlasting as God himself. As C.S. Lewis put it in Letters to Malcolm (Mariner Books): “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

The solid nature of joy is powerfully described by James at the beginning of his letter. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2). To someone unfamiliar with God this verse might well sound like complete nonsense. How can troubles ever bring us joy? Surely they do the exact opposite. But when you understand that you are in a totally secure relationship with the creator of the universe and that nothing can ultimately threaten you, everything looks different. Even the worst human disaster cannot break our relationship with God, and so we have every reason to be joyful.

This is one of the psalms that was sung as the pilgrims made their way up to Jerusalem. What an amazing experience that must have been. As they sang their way up to the temple, they were recommitting themselves to their faith. Yes, God wanted to share his joy with them but he could only do so as they followed in his ways. Thousands of years later, the same is true for us today.

In what way has God brought joy into your life?
Loving God, thank you for the joy that you have given me. Help me to live joyfully today, whatever I have to face. Amen