written by Jane Kwon
You’re continuing with spiritual disciplines— you’re reading your bible, praying day and night, continuing in ministry, seeking to work heartily in school, meeting up with fellow believers, doing seemingly all the “right things”…and yet, it feels like you’re just going through the motions. You know the gospel, you know that it is sufficient, you know that God is good and worthy and holy, and you know that we are called to rejoice always. But for some reason, you lack joy.
If you feel like this, let me tell you friend, we are in the same boat. But you and I both know that a lack of joy doesn’t give us the license to just set everything down and say with folded arms, “Well then, I can’t continue with ministry until I have joy.” No, as followers of Jesus, we are still called to obedience. Our Lord says that if we wish to follow Him, we must carry our crosses daily (Luke 9:23).
But our dutiful obedience as bondservants of Christ does not mean that we should brush off our concerns regarding joy. We are rightly concerned when we don’t feel joyful in the gospel because God is concerned for our joy:
Now, I don’t know why you specifically lack joy right now. Maybe there is sin in your life that you need to repent of. Maybe you’re so swamped with things to do that you haven’t set aside time to cultivate your intimacy with the Lord. Maybe this is your first year leading a small group and you don’t have the same level of accountability you had in previous years.
Whatever the reason, I think it’s safe to say you lack joy because you are looking at something other than Christ. This something could be school or relationships, maybe even godliness and holiness; you can be pursuing God-glorifying attributes for God-defying reasons. Let me explain by asking you some questions: Why do you want to be holy? Is it because you want people in GOC to affirm you, or because you fear the Lord (Eccl 12:13)? Why do you want to be joyful? Is it because you just want to be happy and feel fulfilled, or because you love the Lord your God and want to be satisfied in Him as with marrow and fatness (Psalm 63:5-7)?
Joy is important, but joy itself is not our ultimate pursuit; joy in the Lord is our pursuit. I know this sounds obvious, but it is incredible how I personally forget this simple truth. Christian, God is the object of our affections. I assure you that when you pursue Him, the Spirit will work in you to bear fruit (John 15:4-5), including joy in God.
Whether you feel like you are filled with joy or not in this moment, if you are a believer, remember:
“Go you, who crave for joy, and traverse the wide world round in the vain search for it—my soul shall sit down at the foot of the Cross and say, ‘I have found it here!’ … At the Cross our sun is at its solstice and stands still forever, never moving, without parallax, or shadows of a tropic—always the same—bright, full and glorious!“ -Charles Spurgeon← All Posts