There are times in life when joy is elusive. Note I said, joy, not happiness. Happiness is ever fleeting and, at least in my mind, not worth the pursuit. After all, we are called to be faithful, not happy. We are called to be obedient, not happy. But it is in obedience and faithfulness we will find true joy. So, when we find ourselves less than joyful, we should first check our obedience and faithfulness.
Put another way, we should determine where we have our focus. Joy should be inherent in the life of a disciple. Jesus, the source of all joy, lives within us. The closer we draw to Christ, the more joy we will have.
C.S. Lewis said, “This idea of Joy is not a satisfied desire but an unsatisfied desire ─ a deep longing for God, a hungry pursuit of God’s heart that never ends and is more satisfying than any earthly happiness.” Joy is not something to hold, it is something to pursue. The beautiful part is, as we pursue joy we will find ourselves swimming in the very object of our desire. One cannot pursue God without finding Him, and you can’t seek God without experiencing His immeasurable joy.
There is a catch; our pursuit of God must be rooted in an unquenchable desire to know more of Him for that sake alone. It cannot stem from any selfish motive or any thought of what we might gain from it. When we pursue God simply because He is God, we will find Him, and we will find joy beyond our wildest imaginations. As God cannot be contained, neither can the joy found in the pursuit of Him be contained. It will swallow you up and consume every part of your being. What will keep us from being consumed is pursuing joy for what we might gain from it. As with all things, it is all about Jesus and never about us.
True joy is almost inexpressible. You know what it feels like, but it is difficult to put into words. True joy comes from God and works its way through us, bringing a sense of peace, calm, and mild euphoria. The Psalmist said, “You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.” (Psalm 16:11). I like the progression the writer used: life, joy, pleasure. When we live our lives in pursuit of God, we will find unsurpassable joy, which will result in the eternal pleasure of being with Him.
Are you experiencing joy, true joy, in your life? If you are feeling dejected or discouraged, experiencing everything except for joy, check your focus. What is it you are pursuing? Are you living your life with an unquenchable desire to know God more, simply for the reason He is worth knowing? This will be your joy. If you are focused on yourself, you will seek happiness, not joy. Happiness is frail and fleeting. It will never satisfy beyond the moment. True joy will fill you and bring you eternal pleasure in the presence of God. If you want true joy in your life, pursue Him today, and never stop.