Psalm 16:11; Psalm 43:4; Isaiah 43:18-19; Matthew 6:25; John 10:10; Philippians 1:21; 2:4; 3:13; 4:1; 4:6; 4:8, 10-12; Hebrews 10:17
Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. Psalm 43:4a
Did you ever know someone who tried to assassinate your joy? Someone who seemed to be an executioner of your joy? We think of these people as killjoys. Some people accuse God of being a cosmic killjoy. Those who think this imagine God as a heavenly dictator opposed to fun or pleasure. They envision Him as a black robed judge with a huge gavel readily pointing out our faults and stifling any sense of joy we have. But this isn’t a true picture of the God of the Bible. When we study scripture and we come to understand God’s character, we see He isn’t in any sense a cosmic killjoy. In fact He is the only one who can give us true and lasting joy. In John 10, Jesus, who was God in the flesh, said that He came to give us life to the full. “Life to the full” doesn’t sound like a gift from a killjoy. The people who knew Jesus in the first century needed joy in their lives just as we do today. It’s not just some casual thing that would be nice to have. No, we have a fundamental emotional need for joy in life. Life without joy is overwhelming. Life without joy is burdensome. Life without joy is oppressive. We can learn about God and His character by looking at the various names that refer to Him in the Bible. One of those names is found in Psalm 43:4. There we learn that El Simchath Gili means “God, my exceeding joy.” Yes, He is our exceeding joy, not a killjoy.
Have you ever been accused of being a killjoy? How do you deal with friends or family members that tend to be killjoys? Have you ever thought of God as a cosmic killjoy? Why do so many people believe that God is all about judgment and wrath and not about joy? Which does more to kill your joy: regrets about the past or worries about the future? When was the last time you experienced joy when doing something good for other people? Why is this a dangerous prayer: “God, use me.”? Have you ever found yourself lacking joy when your thoughts weren’t focused on the things Paul mentioned in Philippians 4:8? How hard is it for you to put others’ needs before your own?
Use the J-O-Y-F-U-L acrostic to examine areas of your life that need a fine tuning in order to live a more joyful life. J-Jettison regrets about my past. O-Omit worries about my future. Y-Yield myself to God’s purpose. F-Focus on what’s good. U-Use my life to help others. L-Learn to be content.
Dear Gracious God, thank You for being the source of my joy now and forever. Thank You for helping me to rejoice even in hard times and when I face uncertainty and difficult circumstances. Help me to not fall into the trap of seeking for joy that the world offers at the expense of investing my life in the greater joy of Your kingdom. Someday, I know that I will experience joy beyond all comprehension when I’m with You in eternity. Until then use my life to help others and put desire in my heart to put You first in all things. El Simchath Gili, I pray. Amen