Count it all joy…It cannot really mean that can it? 5 ways to expand our view of JOY.

We are beginning the journey through the book of James at RCC students and the beginning text says this…count it all joy but it doesn’t always seem like we have a full picture of that idea.

JOY!  I know what joy is, or so we think, it is the deep down belief that God is working regardless of whether we see a by product of that deep down feeling expressed in our actions.

We are commanded to find happiness in God.

for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

Did you just feel that twinge in your stomach?  The challenge we sometimes face in believing this reality that God wants us find joy in Him and that actually looks a lot like happiness is real.  Here are five ways that we have a hard time reconciling joy and happiness:

1.     Bad understanding of life and God
Do you look around and see everyone pursuing happiness?  Whether they eat, drink, go to war, or stay home from war…everyone is pursuing their version of what they believe will bring the most enduring happiness.  God himself is the happiest being.  The question isn’t THAT we are but WHAT we are pursuing for our happiness.
2.     Defense tactic to Reconcile our Circumstances
It seems that we observe our life and it would usually reflect a heart that isn’t pursuing our deepest happiness in God.  Or we look at our circumstances and we know we are supposed to find joy in God even if we aren’t happy about those said circumstances.  Instead of trying to understand what true joy looks like we look at our life and try to redefine joy to meet our experience in difficult circumstances.
3.     “far too easily pleased” =CS Lewis
One of the greatest quotes of all time.  Christianity is similar to  Buddhism in many ways in terms of practical living, but beyond the theological differences of some guy named Jesus, it is also significantly different when it comes to an understanding of desire.  In Christianity, desires are a God given good thing. In Buddhism you are called to limit and eliminate desires….they are the root of suffering, but in Christianity we are called to heighten our desires towards to most fulfilling gift….this gift is God Himself in the visible form of Christ.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

4.     Can you see Jesus laugh?
Its a simple enough question…but the answer often surprises us.  NO.  and why is that?  It seems that we view our Lord as a quiet recluse that has to constantly get away to perform certain spiritual disciplines.  Yes this is true, but kids loved being with him and the partiers wants to hang with him.  It seems to me, though an argument from silence, that kids don’t enjoy being with grumpy/boring people and the partiers that I know have a great understanding of what it looks like to have a good time.  If they wanted to hang with Jesus I can imagine this guy was a happy dude.
5.     TOO BASICCan you experience deep happiness and grief simultaneously?  We sometimes get caught up viewing the world in two basic ways:

  1. Good Times = Joy (happiness)
  2. Difficult Times= Pain and sadness

It would seem that this is a shallow view of life’s circumstances.  The clearest picture I can fathom of the death of a loved one who we are confident is headed to glory.  Do I grieve the loss of a close family member? YES.  Do i rejoice knowing that they are before their creator as he ushers them into his presence….I am.  Can I hold both of these at the same time?  I believe it is possible.  Does it make the difficulties any less challenging…I do not believe so, but does that eliminate the joy and happiness that can be felt- may it never be.


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