“Personally, I think joy is overrated.”
There my friend had said it. Out loud. We both heard her. And she was serious. She meant it. As her words hung in the air between us, we laughed about it. But we have come back to that statement several times since her declaration. Her honesty & vulnerability has made us both think about joy. In the times we have gotten together since, we have discussed the concept of “joy”.
And needless to say, in my quiet times, I have gone back to think about her statement.
Is joy overrated?
Why is it then that we long for joy?
We know that joy is different than happiness. Happiness stems from outward circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is in spite of those circumstances. So what is the big deal with “joy”?
This morning I found myself humming a song I had been taught in Sunday School. (Do they even call it that any more?). Anyway, the words to that song are:
“The joy of the Lord is my strength,
The joy of the Lord is my strength,
the joy of the Lord is my strength,
The joy of the Lord IS my strength.”
As I became aware that I was humming, I concentrated on what was going through my head. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” That is when it hit me –
Joy produces strength.
Nehemiah spoke those words to the people in the midst of the restoration project of the wall. He opened the scroll & read God’s Word to them. The people went away “to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.” (Nehemiah 8:12 NIV).
The understanding of God’s Word produced joy. And that joy produced strength.
When we feel the weight of the world on us — joy produces.
When we feel that we cannot go on — joy produces.
When we feel worried — joy produces.
When we do not know what tomorrow holds — joy produces.
And here is what I further realized…..this entire thought process began with the simple humming of a song that God brought back to my remembrance. That same song goes on to say…
“If you want joy, you must sing for it.” And in Sunday School, we would sing louder, almost yelling.
“If you want joy, you must jump for it.” And we would all jump up & down.
Is it just motions for kids to expend energy, I wondered? And then very gently, the Lord reminded me: