What if I don’t FEEL any joy?

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Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12

We’re a feeling culture. We don’t ‘think’ anymore.

I often hear people say things like:

  • I feel that we must accept everyone’s religion as being equally valid.
  • I don’t feel like we’re going to make it to the end of the month!
  • I feel that if she made an effort to understand me, then our marriage would have a chance!

The above statements are not feelings; they are beliefs or thoughts.  Since it appears that we don’t even know how to frame our thoughts accurately, then should it surprise us when we struggle to understand feelings?

I came upon Paul’s exhortation above in a collection of R.C. Sproul’s sermons on Romans.  This is what he wrote regarding Romans 12:12 (page 424 of St Andrew’s Expositional Commentary, published by Crossway):

  • ….faith looks forward and finds its anchor for the soul in the future promises of God.  That is the foundation for our joy.

That reassured me that Biblical joy is based on facts.  Promises made by our God and recorded by the prophets for us.

You probably know from past essays that my natural bent is NOT first toward feeling something.  I have to think, ponder and work out thoughts and notions in my mind before I feel.  The feelings do follow I have observed.

Most of the time I don’t FEEL joy in God.  But that doesn’t bother me.  When I substitute the words:  “I’m glad that” for ‘I feel joy in’, then I understand the command to rejoice.  I THINK joy.

I am VERY glad that God’s promises are true and reliable.

I know that I am entitled to them as a follower of Christ.  For Christians are those folks for whom Jesus lived, died and was raised from the dead.  They know what Jesus and the Godhead did for them, OUT OF LOVE, and are VERY glad.  And that being VERY glad begins a deep, lasting and ongoing transformation into the likeness of this very God who has demonstrated His love for us.

So, what makes me glad each day?  That I have Jesus, that I am wedded to Him as part of the Bride.  And as Paul wrote, ….. all the promises of God are “Yes” in Christ. 2 Cor 1:20a

My response?  a grateful glad and hearty And so through Him, our “Amen” is spoken to the glory of God. 2 Cor 1:20b

One New Year’s Resolution –

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As we approach January 1, I’m prayerfully thinking through where I am spiritually and where I want to be.

To that end, I turn again to John Piper. This 67-year old pastor and teacher is probably my # 1 hero in the faith.  He has shaped my theology the most through his sermons and writing by teaching me:

  • That no sparrow falls unless God has willed it
  • That God wants us to be glad and joy-filled

(a link to his website is to the right)   John Piper’s ministry

A brief explanation of the two points is in order:

First – the fact that God controls the details about sparrows is to say that He is sovereign over every thing that happens in the entire universe, whether invisible or visible.  And He controls all in a way that doesn’t change His nature of GOOD, HOLY, LOVING, JUST and CREATIVE God (to name only 5 of His myriad of attributes).

Second – God created us to be filled to overflowing with gladness, joy and happiness about the right things – HIM, His actions, His saving grace, His promises and His plans for us.

Being happy in God is another way of saying ‘glorifying’ God.

John Piper explains that the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s very FIRST Q and A to be:

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever

 

Piper explains that since only ONE end is mentioned (not two), changing the AND to BY does not alter the meaning.

that our chief purpose in life is to glorify God BY enjoying him forever. 

It seems that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.  And the corollary is that our degree of satisfaction in God increases when we let others know how happy in Him we are. 

My goal, therefore, for this New Year is to practice glorifying God by enjoying Him as well as His gifts.

Obviously, this is easier said than done.  Why is that?  Because I live on a diet of junk.  Just like one’s taste for vegetables has to be nurtured and developed, so, too, must I cultivate a ‘taste’ for God-things, for holiness. 

 

Far too often I’d rather –

  • Check the internet than pray
  • Read the paper instead of my Bible
  • Think about how I’m going to lose 3 lbs and NOT how I could invite a lonely person to dinner

What’s a self-absorbed tech-preferring gal going to do? 

Well, I only have one idea – perhaps you can suggest others:

In the vein of Ann Voskamp, I’m going to keep thanking God for all His wonders.  That implies that I am going to notice and catch these marvels, these gifts, and the myriad of God-sent little pleasures. To that end, I will pray daily for Holy Spirit help to prod me, to remind me, to get me out of myself and look up and around.

A link to her book

Taste and see that the Lord is good – Psalm 34:8

 

 

 

 

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