My beloved, I want to tell you, only the Lord can give you joy. If the Lord does not give you joy, you will not have it. You may have fits of joy now and again but they will not last.
If the Lord is not your joy, you can go to Siberia, change groups, go up and down, but soon you will be back to the same state. We were created so that the Lord alone would be our joy. No-one else was to be or can be our joy.
What the Psalmist said
The Psalmist says, Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you (Psalm 73:25). The reality is that no one and nothing can be our joy.
Do not let the devil deceive you that your joylessness is because of
- your husband,
- your wife,
- your children,
your circumstances, it is a lie. The Psalmist had only one source of joy. It is the purpose of God that the Lord alone be the believer’s joy.
Only the Lord can enter into your heart of hearts and there produce joy. If not, you will need more and more kicks from outside. The alcoholic needs more and more of his drink. The sex maniac needs more and more sex in order to be happy. One whose joy comes from food needs more and more food. The sightseer needs to see more and more places in order to be happy.
The example of brother Watchman Nee
After twenty years in prison, Watchman Nee, a beloved man of God said, “I have maintained my joy.” For all that time, he did not see his wife, not once. He maintained his joy.
The example of an amputated, secluded woman
There is that woman who had lost both hands and feet. But she did not lose her joy. She was a woman radiating with joy. She had spent twenty-four years in the same room. She knew no self-pity because of no hands and no feet. Her toilet, everything was there, in that one room. Her joy cannot have come from anything, it could not have come from any person or from anywhere else in the world. That is what we are talking about.
You can change houses, you can change countries, you can buy all on earth – they will bring you problems.
My testimony of abiding joy
My joy is complete and my joy has been complete for a long time now. For many years, I do not know the thing called discouragement. If someone tells me that I am a fool, I will also remember the day someone else told me I was a wonder. Is it another man who should make me a fool? Only I can make myself a fool.
When I have a problem, I want everybody away. I want to be alone with God. I also do not know any day when I locked myself up in the presence of the Lord and came out with my problem unsolved. That is my experience. May you find Jesus as your joy.
A problem in the relationship with the Lord
I want to plead with you – make Jesus your joy. When joy is absent, then something is wrong in the relationship with Jesus. You should be able to ask, “What is wrong between Jesus and I?” It is the only place where the problem can come from. The believer’s peace, and joy are of the Lord. Who else can give the Lord’s joy but the Lord? No one.
The Lord alone can be our contentment.
- So we seek Him for our joy.
- So we seek Him for our contentment.
- So we seek Him for our peace.
- So we seek Him for our all. We do not turn to the left or to the right. The Lord is our joy.
A joy that qualifies for ministry
How can a complaining, sad believer minister to an unbeliever? It is not possible. If with Christ, you are miserable, will you invite any person to come to this your Jesus who makes sad? He may rather invite you to have the joy of beer. Many believers have adopted a defeatist attitude. Consequently, they have no power to witness where they are.
Your every complain, and accusing others of being responsible for your condition is an accusation of the Almighty.
It does not depend on your circumstances
If you have sought for this joy elsewhere, come back and seek the Lord. How can you blame others? Were they there when you started with Jesus? The one who gave you the initial joy is the only one who can restore it.
I already talked about Watchman Nee who said, “I maintained my joy”. They tortured him more and more saying he was an unreformed intellectual. He stopped school after ‘A’ levels, but they recognised him as an intellectual. He had a heart condition. They kept him longer so that he may be reformed. His joy was the Lord who was there with him in prison.
From prison, Paul tells the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. Even when I will have left the University of Yaounde, I will not forget what one old professor told me, “You go here and there rejoicing like a child. Do you not know that there are too many problems here?” Two days earlier, my promotion had been turned down because they said there was endless trouble since I came. I had received recommendations from five professors, in five countries. This old professor did not understand, why I should be joyful with such circumstances. He expected me to be miserable.
I want to call you to make Jesus your joy. No human being can make or unmake your joy. When you started, it was only you and Jesus. He gave you a foretaste of heaven. He was your joy. It was not a thing. It was not someone else.
Say with me,
“O Lord, you are my joy.
O my Lord, you are my bliss.
I give you myself entirely.
I receive you, Lord, in Your totality.
I will look up to You, and to You alone.
You are in me, so my joy is resident in me. I will not look outwards. You are the end of my search for joy.
Did anyone hurt you?
If you lost your joy because someone hurt you, walk up to him and forgive him. Do not wait till the person comes up to repent. Get to whatever reconciliation is needed, so that these things that rob you of your joy are eliminated. Bitterness and wounded pride must be lifted off and put out of the way.
Say “Lord, you are my joy. I will let my joy flow out and overflow. Thank you for the Brothers and sisters you have given me.” People become miserable because they concentrate on secondary issues. Who is big enough to make you miserable? Who is he? What is he?
Once in Sierra Leone a certain lecturer was interested in a sister. He visited her three times in her absence because she was in a Christian meeting. When he met her later, he said, “Choose between Jesus and me.” The sister replied in Creole, “You be weti? (Who do you think you are?)