What does joy actually mean? I guess most of us think joy is almost synonymous with happiness. But I think joy is far more than being happy. Happiness is dependent on our circumstances. We feel happy when everything’s going well for us. Joy, I believe, is much deeper. Joy’s not dependant on our circumstance and can be experienced in the middle of immense suffering and pain.
On 9th September 2008 our eldest son David was found dead in an alley way in Eastbourne. He’d fallen, hit his head and died. He was only 25 years old. This was devastating; no parent expects to bury their child.
As a Christian, it led me to a time when I questioned so many things about my faith. I was angry with God, and yet at the same time I knew he loved me and my son. The following years have been a time of testing, pain and sorrow, and yet beneath it has been a sense of the joy of the Lord. It’s not an emotion, and it’s certainly not the same as happiness. It’s more the sense of knowing that although I’ve suffered tremendous loss, my heavenly Father’s still in control. His loving arms are underneath me and supporting me.
There have been times when I’ve shouted at God and times when I’ve come close to doubting His existence. He’s heard my pain and anguish; he’s seen me at my worse. Yet despite all of this, deep beneath has been a sense of His presence and love. You see, we have a God who’s not frightened by our grief, anger and sin.
I believe the joy of the lord has its root in the knowledge that God loves us completely and utterly. No matter how chaotic and bad things are, he’s still in control. This I believe is the basis of the joy of the Lord.