joyful, joyful

For some reason, I always feel like there is great pressure to just “be joyful” without acknowledging that joy is a fruit of the spirit. It’s something that we receive from God,  not something we need to achieve in order to please Him. Of course, we should be joyful. Scripture clearly tells us to “Shout for joyBe joyful in all things…  Count it all joy…” and it’s undeniable that a heart in union with God is a heart of joy.  The conflict here comes when the rubber hits the road: life is hard and joy is not a natural response in the face of difficulty.

Thankfully, this joy is not at all a burdensome command placed on weary shoulders! It is a gift. God delights to give us gifts, and when joy seems out of reach we can (must!) ask for it with confidence.  I love that the hymn Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee abounds in encouragement. This song points us to God who gives joy instead of demanding something that seems so impossible to achieve on our own.

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest; vale and mountain; flowery meadow, flashing sea;
Chanting bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the mighty chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us sunward in the triumph song of life.

-Joyful, Joyful text from Henry Van Dyke in 1907.

4 thoughts on “joyful, joyful

  1. I love this post, Abby. It was very timely for some people near and dear to me so I passed it on. Thank you!

  2. Abby, this is so good! I love that you play around with concepts in a variety of ways, from scripture to hymns to critical thinking. Your reminder that joy is FROM God, not something we develop on our own FOR God is timely.

    One thing I’ve learned about joy recently is that in some situations, it requires a loss or open space in order to become visible. Maybe I’m just not good at distinguishing yet what’s joy and what’s happiness, so it’s like there has to be a decrease in happiness (ie: everything going my way) before I can see what joy specifically looks like. I’m grateful for a God who sees and is working on my behalf, even in a world that is not His ideal. That is joy.

    Thank you for your comment on my blog! I’m so glad a few people read it. Sometimes I debate publicizing it all because I really think I’ve learned some cool thing recently!! But I also like having a moderately safe space to work out my latest crazy ideas.

    Let’s keep up the discussion on how to be radical Ezer-Warriors because of Jesus, no matter what the sphere. I anticipate that if marriage and children are in my future, I would really enjoy being a stay at home mom for a few years if it’s financially possible. I think it would make sense for me based on my personality and understanding of early child development. But I don’t see that as my primary or limited or long term or eternal role! Jesus is too freeing and grace is too big for me to just to play a role.

  3. Yes, the joy is of God throughthe Holy Spirit who dwells within us who call upon our Lord, Jesus Christ. You have a great site here and i have enjoyed so much of it. Your hectic life – is also a blessing. Both to your family and ours. You articulate how important it is to keep things in proper perspective and trust in God for our daily lives.

    God Bless

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