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The Joy of the Lord is our Strength

pray

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” 

John 15:11, NIV

Joy: “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness; a thing that causes joy.” 

Webster’s Dictionary

“If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.”

Carlos Santana

Ray Kroc, of McDonalds fame, helped catapult the fast food chain into the global market with the help of what is known as the “Happy Meal.”  The nutritional value of the meal itself has always been the subject of great dietary debate, but everyone knows it’s the prize inside that drives the purchase.  Geared toward children, the design is to make adults “happy” by making children “happy.” We all know that prizes vary and sometimes run in conjunction with a particular movie, prompting the purchase, over time, of multiple happy meals to get all 7 dwarfs, or all the characters from “Toy Story,” or the cast from “Shrek.”  The success of the “Happy Meal” speaks to the marketing genius behind it.  

The same mentality that joy/happiness is found in “things” drives us to work longer hours, so that we can have more money, so that we can have bigger and better things.  The only real differences in the “Happy Meals” of childhood and the “Happy Meals” of adulthood are the prices paid and the prizes bought. Sadly enough, though, like the “Happy Meal” prizes of long ago, the happiness is short-lived, and we continue to search for that elusive prize that we think will bring us complete and unending joy.

The verse referenced above helps us understand that joy—complete and lasting joy—is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  It’s not automatic, but rather a mentality and resulting lifestyle based upon complete reliance upon Christ to supply all our needs.  In short, joy is found in giving Christ control of all aspects of our lives. Our focal verse helps us better understand a couple of things.  There is…

(1) Joy explained 

  • ~our happiness lies in knowing that Christ is happy with us (“Well done, good and faithful servant…”)
  • ~the joy of Christ, then, is…
  • Based upon a connected relationship (the verses preceding v. 11 talk about the relationship between the vine and the branches)
  • Based upon a corrected relationship (branches not producing are cut away; other branches are pruned so as to be even more productive)

(2) Joy exchanged 

  • ~the joy of Christ now becomes our joy
  • It is a provisional joy (“so that my joy may be in you”)
  • ~provisional:  “arranged or existing for the present” (joy for this moment, or joy for today; not future joy, because the future is uncertain)
  • It is a personal joy (“your joy”)    
  • It is a perfect joy (“and that your joy may be complete,”)
  • ~complete:  “to fill up; fulfill; not lacking” (Latin derivation)

The joy of Christ in our lives is not governed by circumstance, feeling, economy, opinion, or world view.  His joy is complete, and brings about the peace “that passes all understanding.” The joy of the Lord is, indeed, our strength.

Chet Rains

Chester W. (Chet) Rains has been a hospice chaplain for 11 years, 7 with Pruitt. Before joining hospice, he served for 17 years in the pastoral ministry, having ministered in 3 churches—2 in SC and 1 in NC. He received his bachelors from The Citadel in Charleston, SC, masters from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, and doctorate from Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, SC. In addition, Chet has 2 children and 3 grandchildren.

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