Today, while looking out the window I saw our one dog happily rolling around on the grass. He really seemed to be enjoying himself, getting a good scratch while he rolled in some smelly thing to mask his scent (this according to dog experts is instinctual behaviour). There have been other occasions, when he’s had a toy rope that he’s run around “throwing” the rope around for himself and having a great time.
What really stuck with me as I saw my dog rolling around was this sense of joy. He really seemed carefree and loving the moment. This got me thinking about how important joy is, in our lives. As Christians we should be people characterised by joy as we have the most reason to celebrate. This is not to say that being joyful means that you’re always smiling and laughing, there are times for being serious, for sorrow. Joy is not a facade of “happy all the time” that we need to put up. Yet, at the same time, joy does mean times of laughter, jollity and light-heartedness. Because of the joy in our hearts we should be quicker to laugh than to scowl, quicker to say a word of encouragement than a word of complaint.
The joy of the Lord’s people when they are gathered together is something I am really missing about New Harvest. Those jokes in the notices or in the service when something doesn’t quite go to plan, and yet no one minds as they have a good chuckle about it. It is really is a strength, as Nehemiah affirms in his words to God’s people:
“…This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength,” (Nehemiah 8:10)
It is strength to face the ups and downs of life with joy in our hearts. Joy that comes from our relationship with the Lord, joy that comes from knowing all that we have in Christ, salvation and a hope and a future. We can then understand why Paul urges the believers “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) and again in another one of his letters, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
I too would urge you to not allow the negative situation we face during this time to steal your joy. Take comfort and encouragement in the Lord. Face the obstacles with joy and you’ll find it easier to laugh than to complain.
I look forward to the day when we can all be together and have a good laugh again!