What brings you joy? What brightens your day and lifts your spirits? What has the power to encourage and move you above and beyond the place where you are now? I want you to really think about what’s important to you and where the foundation for your happiness lies. It’s an important question if we are to truly seek that which is eternal rather than that which eventually fades and leaves us empty.
Certainly there are worthy things on this earth that can bring us joy such as our families and cherished friends. At times we may even find joy due to a special occasion and the shared warmth and camaraderie that it brings. Joy may also catch us by surprise as we listen to a powerful piece of music or experience the splendor of a sunrise painted across the morning sky. All of these and many more are good things.
But they are also temporary. They fade away, sometimes in mere moments.
Because of this some of us spend inordinate amounts of time chasing joy. We know what joy feels like and we want to be joyful again so we try to repeat the actions, thoughts or occasions that originally made us joyful. But it’s never quite the same the second time around. So on we go looking for other things, other people or other ideas that might bring us joy again. And as we invest time and energy into those things, people or ideas and we don’t find the joy we are looking for we become disillusioned and cynical. We become hard and broken and we give up on the idea that life could ever be more than it is right now.
That idea, however, is a lie. Don’t believe it.
I am here to tell to you as humbly and as boldly as I can that there is real joy to be found in this life and it is an eternal and abiding joy! How do I know this? Because, with God’s help and provision, I am living it.
Consider Isaiah chapter 55:1-2 (NKJV)
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Even though this was written thousands of years ago it sounds like God might be talking to us and about us right here, today. We spend so much time and effort buying and chasing things that don’t really satisfy us as they should and then going and looking for other things to satisfy us because the first things didn’t and so on and so forth. It becomes a cycle that will quite literally kill us and damage everyone around us in the process.
But God says that we can “eat what is good” and then “let your soul delight itself in abundance”. God offers us joy that does not fade and what he provides will always satisfy our deepest longings.
How do we get there? Isaiah 55:3a (NKJV) gives us the first direction that we should follow:
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
Listening requires us to be quiet and to be still. We have to focus on the person who is doing the talking and forget ourselves for a few moments to really hear what is being said. This is the beginning of the Lord’s invitation to us. To simply listen and hear what He has to say.
What else? Isaiah 55:6-7 (NKJV) shows the way:
Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
One of the most amazing things about the Lord is that He wants to show mercy to us. Although He always allows us to choose our own path (and by extension, the consequences of our decisions) He is always watching and waiting for us to come to Him. He loves us so much that He has a standing offer of eternal, abundant life. His Word, the Bible, through study and prayer, can bring us that eternal life and that abiding joy, if we choose to base our life on it.
Isaiah 55: 10-11 says this about God’s Word:
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
What a promise! God says that His Word will accomplish and prosper that which He purposes. And there is nothing in this world that He loves more than you! Will you let His Word do it’s work in you? Will you let real joy abide in your heart as you listen and learn from His Word? If you will, watch what God will do for you as written in Isaiah 55: 12 (NKJV)
“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
The result of a life that is lived according to God’s Word is joy and peace! The picture we are shown in verse 12 is creation itself singing and clapping as you go. In other words, the world itself rejoices in the life of a believer who seeks after God and listens to His voice. That does not mean that life will be easy, we still live in a sinful, fallen state. But God Himself has alleviated our sin problem and has provided a way for us to overcome death and break the bonds of the sin that once defined our lives.
Herein lies true joy, constant and eternal. This is the free gift of God to all who our willing. If you’ve lived up until this point chasing after everything else and you can’t seem to find peace and you’ve forgotten what joy really feels like then I invite you to turn to God. Give your life over to Him, seek His presence and listen to His Words. I promise, if you do, that you will never be the same and that His joy will never leave you.