The other day, Ella and I were hunting a vicious critter that had taken over our home. Buzzing could be heard all around us as we tried desperately to smack that sucker down. He had nibbled on us for way too long. We couldn't take it anymore! So, as we ate lunch and heard his nagging call once again, I reached out to grab him. Thinking I had finally gotten him, I clapped my hands hard, expecting the pest to fall out of my hands, dead. Meanwhile, Ella had run as fast as she could into the other room. Thinking she had fled because of the silly, pesky mosquito, I called to tell her that I had failed to kill the bug, but she could come back into the kitchen. She replied, "Whew, mama! You just scared the joy right out of me!". After my laughter subsided over such a cute response, my thoughts turned to the truth of her words.
Aren't there times in life when you feel like you've had the joy scared out of you?
Fear disables us. It sucks life out of us. It causes us to live in a perpetual cycle of self-pity. It effectively stops us from stepping out in faith.
Satan uses fear to mangle us in all of these ways and more. But, number one on Satan's priority list is finding ways to steal our joy. If he can take our joy, he has carved an enormous hole in our foundation. Once our joy is destroyed, the walls of our faith are likely to come crumbling down in a pile of dust.
Joy is not mere happiness. It is a deeper contentment and satisfaction that is not based on circumstances, but on the victory we have as followers of Christ. So, when joy disappears from our lives, those around us notice the difference. I was told several years ago by a teaching mentor that I had "lost my joy". At the time, I didn't know exactly what she meant by that. But, looking back, that was a time when I was relying on my own strength to get me through my first days of teaching school. My "happiness" was founded in how I felt about teaching. It wasn't coming from a place of deep trust in the Father Who put me in the classroom.
Ella and I just watched the most current version of Alice in Wonderland and this scene resonated with me as I thought about this concept of "losing my joy".
"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love." ~ 1 John 4:8
"'Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.'" ~ Isaiah 41:10
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." ~ Romans 15:13
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." ~ 1 Peter 4:12-14
Do not be afraid, dear friends, when trials come at you like daggers. When Satan seeks to steal your joy. When all hell seems to break loose.
Be joyful. You know the Victor. You know Who wins in the end. You know that the testing of your faith only brings you closer to the Father of Life. You know that you cannot truly lose your "muchness" because when you gave your heart to Jesus, He gave you all the "muchness" you will ever need. Do not lose heart. Your joy is still there. Deep, deep down in your heart.
Come on and sing it with me:
I’ve got JOY down in my heart, deep deep down in my heart.
Spell it: J–O–Y down in my heart, deep deep down in my heart.
Jesus put it there and NOTHING can destroy it, destroy it, destroy it, NO!
I’ve got JOY down in my heart, deep deep down in my heart!