Re-Embrace: I’ve Got the Joy

(Photo by Selma Komisky)

Re-Embrace: I’ve Got the Joy

By Iain Dick

Here we are. The last message of a series of themed articles on purity. What’s funny now is realising that two of my previous articles’ names were “It’s Complicated” and “Pure & Simple”. Which is funny. Life is simple, and yet complicated. Life and all its seasons are so complex that sometimes the simplest of lessons, some of which we have already learned, can seem so complicated.

Here is a lesson that I’m actively learning at the point of writing this: Joy; as a choice!

Philippians 4:4-6 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Psalm 85:1 – Lord, you were favourable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.

Those verses are usually read as liturgy on the third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday), which is themed as Joy/Rejoicing.

What is JOY?

Maybe our first thought about JOY is the feeling. The emotion often lumped in with happiness. For any Disney Pixar fans, maybe you’re reminded of the movie Inside Out, where the little girl Riley’s internal world of emotions are personified in the characters of Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and of course Joy – their leader. It’s an incredibly insightful movie that some counsellors I know would recommend! Without spoiling it, since Joy is the first of the feelings that we meet, she is the boss, and spends the movie doing everything she can making sure Riley has as many core memories infused with joy as possible.

But joy as a feeling can’t be all that the Bible tells us about, can it?

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The order of how they start is important, and here’s why…

13th century theologian Thomas Aquinas describes joy this way…

“joy is caused by love, either through the presence of the thing loved, or because of the proper good of the thing loved exists and endures in it…joy is full when there remains nothing to be desired.”

Only in heaven will we fully possess God with no obstacles, therefore perfect spiritual joy is not attainable in this life. So, is it any wonder why the love, joy, peace, patience etc we experience on Earth seems less than perfect?

Also, until we consider God our highest good in this life; our sins and failings can impede our spiritual joy. So, even though we who are in Christ have the Holy Spirit, we can be guilty of allowing things to become obstacles to its fruit.

John 15:9-11 – As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

To rejoice, to love others, or to abide in love; all these things and more, that God’s Word talks about, require a choice from us. Are we going to live life WITH the Holy Spirit, or with our own soul calling the shots? If I was to base my 2022 on how my soul felt and what it told me to do, it’s a truly sorry sight. I have been “- joy” for a lot of it. But, if I look through the year with gratitude to God for where I saw love, joy and peace, then it looks like a chapter of some progress.

It’s not perfect, but it’s another step in the journey. And if I’m not satisfied with how much I’ve seen God in the past year, then it’s up to me to choose to draw closer to Him in the coming year.

My prayer for you now, is that God will reveal Himself, His love, His grace, and His Mighty power to you very soon. That you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind, and that you will receive Christ as your King and Saviour all over again.

God bless you.