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Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Through
the years I have found that the ‘holy grail’ sought by most people is
that euphoric joy that makes us forget our mundane lives. The
elusive state of joy may be grasped temporarily by the god of
acquisition through endless shopping for a variety of possessions
such as a new house, a new car, a new fashionable wardrobe, or the
latest technological gadgetry. Or perhaps it is through the
tastebuds – at the newest restaurant, chocolate, or caviar.
The
first repair bill on the house, scuffed furniture, ding in the car,
tear in the clothing or stomach ache, and the joy, or what we thought
was joy, has disappeared. Perhaps, a get-away is in order. But what
will a change of scene accomplish? Will it last a life time through
the thousands of pictures taken of the fun-filled week or two? Will
the responsibilities lessen when you come back because of the
‘get-away’? At some point returning is inevitable.
These
all describe momentary fun or happiness, not the over-flowing joy
that lasts and has eternal worth. A friend of mine, a young lady,
became ill. The illness was diagnosed as cancer. Kim taught me the
secret of joy. It wasn’t what she had, it wasn’t about who she was,
it wasn’t about where she was…joy came to her, even in her last
moment of life, because of Whose she was. The following chorus, Kim
sang over and over.
The Joy of the Lord will be my strength - I will not falter I will not faint.
The Joy of the Lord will be my strength - I am surrounded by mercy and grace.
The Joy of the Lord will be my strength - I will not waiver walking by faith.
He will be strong to deliver me safe.  (Psalm 28:7 - The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.)
What IS joy?
Joy is the gift of God through eternal hope and obedience to God.
Joy is an attribute or characteristic of God. Joy is having a clear
conscience before God because of our obedience to God. Joy is the
process of ‘being’ a child of God. Joy is the second of the fruit of
the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
When
do we enjoy Joy? Looking back there are moments, flashes of Joy, as
when the sun-light catches the cut-glass vase on the shelf, and a
reflection pierces my heart with hope that overflows and I feel God’s
presence. Has it always been so? No, it is a process of faith and
building a relationship with God.
Family.
I grew up with a loving family. There was the security of
discipline and armfuls of hugs and faith that guided me, even when I
didn’t want to be guided in my teens. And now our own family of four
children and their loving spouses, twelve grandchildren and seven
great grandchildren are our blessing, our joy combined with sorrow at
times that keeps us praying and ever hopeful for their understanding
of joy.
When
Ed and I were married sixty plus years ago, we began our lives with little or no
understanding of the enormity of what joy God would give us. With
our first children, twins, Danny and Donny, began an understanding of
what trusting in Jesus means, for Donny did not live. Why? Dan
became more precious to us and we have a ‘place-holder’ in Heaven.
Donny is a reason to belong to God through Jesus, to be re-united
with Donny. At that moment of realization, we had joy and sorrow.
Sorrow for what might have been and Joy in trusting that God knew
best and would care for Donny. In rapid succession, four years,
three other gifts from God were born. And the pain of childbirth was
soon forgotten and joy replaced the pain. We celebrated in joy as
each of our children had their ‘firsts’…and most of all when they
were baptized into Jesus Christ at young ages. Our children were
gifted in many ways, each one so different and each child loved
beyond measure. They continue to bring us joy in countless ways.

The father of a righteous child has great joy;
a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. Proverbs 23:24

I have no greater joy than to
hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4
As
our loved ones pass from this earth, ‘joy overlaps sorrow’ (Tim
Keller – http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/joy-overcoming-boredom)
For we understand that our separation from grandparents, parents,
siblings is not forever. There IS a reunion. I Peter 1:8 –
Though
you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see
him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and
glorious joy.
While
the weathermen seem conflicted about how long we will have rain, or
when rain will fall, I take joy in cloudy and sunny days, rainy and
snowy days, hot or cold days. For God is in control. I find His
face in the many colored clouds, the sunset and the sunrise. I hear
His Voice in the soft or swift winds. I see his pleasure in many
nuances of color in creation. I see His Power in the world about me,
in those He places in power. I see His loving Hand as He cares for
the ‘least of these’ through us. I see His Joy in creating the
little ones that bring us hope.
Recently,
because of health, we moved two states away from our church family.
It was a difficult decision and a difficult time to prepare. Many of
the belongings that made us feel at home are now gone. Was this the
right decision? Would we be ‘at home’ in a different place? Will God
bring us joy in this new phase of life?
We
attended our new church family home the second Sunday. As the
service began, I looked at my new brothers and sisters in Christ. A
wave of Joy covered me as I realized that these unknown souls are
known to us because of the joy of belonging to Jesus.
As voices were raised to God in praise and adoration, tears threatened
to escape my eyes as the Joy of Jesus flooded my soul. I didn’t
know all the songs, but simply read the words and they ministered to
me. I listened to others singing and knew they meant what they were
singing. I watched as the musicians on stage gave God the glory
through their talents and enthusiasm to worship. I heard the Word
preached with love and fervor. This is home, and the realization
that there are so many other ‘homes’ over all the world and that we
are one in Christ Jesus fills me with Joy.
Where
can we find this inexpressible joy that brings us to our knees in
thanksgiving?

You love righteousness and hate
wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your
companions by anointing you with the oil of joy
. Psalm
45:7

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you
before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to
the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority,
through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!
Amen.
Jude 1:24-25

Comments? eacombs@att.net

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