“You have made known to me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11 KJV).
God shows us the path of life. He is the source of all wisdom. If we seek His face, His ways and walk in it, we find joy. Do you believe that? I wrote a two-volume book, This is The Way, Walk in it, describing what that means. The Apostle Paul said, “And now I will show you the most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). He was describing the way of faith, hope and love. He also spoke to the Galatians about the fruit of the Spirit, which is “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22). He said that there is no law against these things. So I choose “joy” as a characteristic of God that I want to emphasize this year, 2017.
The thought that in God’s presence is fullness of joy is very encouraging. The biggest selling devotional books of the new century are Jesus Calling and Jesus Today, speaking of peace and hope in the presence of God. I believe that there is also joy as the Psalmist tells us. It is our strength. We must never lose hope and we must strive to find peace in His presence. But this psalm tells us that in God’s presence is fullness of joy. If we trust in Jesus, God’s Son, as our Savior and Lord we have God living with and in us. In other words, we have the presence of God, which is “the fullness of joy.” Paul tells the Philippians to be anxious for nothing and to pray for all things and then the “peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). What a wonderful promise. Yet even more so the joy of the Lord given to us in His presence now and in the life to come is a wonderful promise also.
Do you ever have joy? I am beginning to find joy often. Once in my life joy was just not present. Growing up in an alcoholic and dysfunctional family did not help me find it. I know it is a spiritual strength that God Himself brings in His presence, but constant fears for my first 40 years just counted out joy. I had good times and happiness at times, but not joy. In fact I lived a life that looked like an EKG strip, up and down. I lived with a sense of nausea from my childhood well into my adulthood, until I met Jesus at Age 40 years. Not until then did joy begin to come. I had privilege and travel, good things and safe upbringing. But never joy, because it certainly did not exist in our home. Joy is a spiritual concept. Jesus was not present, but more so a constant fearfulness about keeping up with the Joneses and achievement kept it out. Achievement for resume was a mantra.
All of us undergo difficult times and losses. But perhaps most important in these moments is, who is with you? Do you have relationships that encourage and build up or criticize and push you down? This psalm verse talks of having God in your presence and His right hand in your hand. This is a hand of encouragement and power, peace and joy. This joy is to be overflowing.
I have found that sense of joy even though circumstances try to take it away. Satan wants these difficult times to overwhelm us. He does not want our cups to overflow.
I see a man at the YMCA regularly who is angry at life and does not believe it will get better, but worse. He complains continually about everything. He wants me to get him a job. Sadly, even if I could, I hesitate to recommend him, because he needs something else even more. I have been unemployed more than once for several years during my potentially most productive years. God used these times for growth in spirit and maturity. My friend’s attitude would exclude him from employment in any business in which I am familiar. He has no joy and no sense of how to get it. Yes I try to help, but am always rebuffed. The opportunity for joy in his trials is there, he choses darkness over light, emptiness over fullness. We have an opportunity to choose joy.