I still have joy
Published 9:45 pm Monday, December 17, 2018
By Joseph Perry
This is a statement that came from a family whose house caught a fire a few days ago. The husband stood there with his wife and children, in front of their newly assigned pastor, and said, “Pastor, I still have joy.” After all the things they had been through, he said he still had joy.
In order to have joy after losing everything you had, days before Christmas, days before the beginning of a new year, you have to be rooted and grounded in the Lord — you have to have real faith. Because there are some folk who can sing it, they can shout it and preach it, but how many of us can say it when we actually are going through it? From the pulpit to the pews, when our faith is tested, can we still uphold the banner of joy?
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Oftentimes, when we’re going through our trials, we walk around upset, mad and unhappy. We walk around sometimes with our heads hung down and in a state of torment and torture. When these times come, we must remember who we are. We must never forget who we are in the Lord.
The Bible declares that the joy of the Lord is my strength. James said to count it all joy when you go through trials.
The angels from on high said, “l bring you good tidings of great joy.” Having joy should be the hallmark of who we are, regardless of the situation. Whatever we’re facing, we still can declare to the world that we still have joy. How about you in your situation?
Isaiah is now preparing to share a word with Israel; he has been called to say something to God’s chosen people after they have gone through defeat. They would experience punishment and judgment, but later they would be restored. However, in their current state they felt defeated. Defeat will do something to you. Have you ever felt defeated? Your job was not a success, your marriage failed, your friendship lost, you didn’t get the grade you worked so hard to get, your child ended up on drugs or in jail, you said or did the wrong thing again. Every time you think you’re getting up, something brings you back down.
Defeat can in a negative way bring about a loss of energy, loss of confidence, loss of feeling successful, loss of joy. God’s people experience some challenging moments. Many of them felt the pressure, the stress of life, even as God’s people who have been called out to be the church, but now they have lost their joy.
Folks who look at you can tell when you have lost your joy. You can put on a different kind of make-up, buy a new outfit from Macy’s, change your hairstyle, but folks can tell when your spirit is low. You can go to family gatherings and go to your weekly meetings, sit at your desk at work, step in Walmart, come sit in the church and look around and rock from side to side, and folk will know when you’ve lost your joy.
To keep joy, and not just a sense of joy, I have to remember the benefits of salvation:
4My relationship with the Lord. You see, my relationship, my connection with the Lord should mean everything to me, that even when I go through things, I know I still have my Lord with me.
4My renewed fire in the Lord. When I read my Bible, it lets me know that He’s working on me for something greater. Don’t ever think that God has forgotten about you. That ought to give you a spirit of renewed fire to run and tell the world, that this is the day that the Lord has made and we shall rejoice and be glad in it. Keep your joy in your heart, no matter what.
The Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Perry is pastor of St. Mark AME Zion Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.