Article of Faith: Rejoice in the Lord always (2), By Femi Aribisala

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The joy of the Lord is immune to tribulation. It cannot be dampened by affliction.

Jesus had a fascinating conversation with a Samaritan woman by the well of Jacob. When He asked her for water to drink, the woman was a bit uppity because she had a bucket and Jesus did not have one. But Jesus explained to her that everything in this world (including a bucket) is of limited value. Therefore, it is foolish to be proud of worldly possessions.

He pointed out to her that: “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14).

When our wants are met from without, they only touch the superficial aspects of our being. They do not address the eternal longings and yearnings of the soul. Therefore, they are soon spent, and they need to be renewed as if they had never been satisfied before.

However, the water that Christ gives is spiritual and reaches the very depths of the soul. This water makes the soul not a cistern but a fountain, springing, bubbling, and gushing forth from within us, ever fresh and ever living. (John 7:38).

No More Sorrows

Once we appreciate this, we discover that spiritual dejection or despair in a believer is anathema to our faith. The fulfilment of whatever we require can never be preferable to our salvation. God cannot be better for us than He has already been. There is nothing He can do for us in this lifetime that can exceed what He has already done in Christ.

Jesus cannot die for us a second time. We cannot be cleansed with a better blood. God cannot give you a more superior Holy Spirit. He cannot appoint us to a better heaven. God gave us the best first by giving us Himself and everything that pertains to Him. Therefore, Jesus counselled that salvation is the only cause for joy. (Luke 10:20). 

So, if a redeemed man is depressed then he is to blame. God cannot be held responsible for his depression. James presents the proposition that dejection springs from sinful lust: “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:2-3)

Lust makes us insist on having our own way or on satisfying our own desires. It makes us dissatisfied with God for refusing to grant our carnal wishes. Soon, the dissatisfaction turns to disillusionment and despair. Once our insistence is that our will must be done, we are no longer in atonement with the Father. The privilege we have in Christ lies in our standing in atonement with God and not in God standing in atonement with us.

Steadfast Love

The joy of the Lord Jesus Christ is the joy of abiding in the love of the Father. This makes His joy immune to the vicissitudes of life. Indeed, when the Bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), it is without prejudice to the fact that the joy of the Lord often causes us much pain.

Jesus endured the cross for the joy of the Lord. The strength comes from the realisation that we are at the centre of the Father’s will, whatever the cost. Therefore, the writer of Hebrews advises that we should make Jesus a gazing stock:

 

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (Hebrews 12:2-4).

It is one of those illusions of man to think he ever belonged to himself. When we were in the world, we were deluded into thinking we were free to do as we liked. Bobby Brown sings: “It is my prerogative.” Frank Sinatra sings: “I did it my way.” 

Yes. We slept with whosoever we wanted to. We fought against anybody who offended us. We sat down to eat and drink, and we rose up to play. (Exodus 32:6). But this was because we sat in darkness. When the light of the world came, we suddenly discovered that we were in bondage. We discovered that we were slaves of sin. We discovered that what we called our prerogative was actually the prerogative of demons.

Fulness of Joy

For this reason, Jesus was careful to tell His followers that there would be trouble ahead. (John 16:33). And He pointed out the reason why it is necessary to be forewarned and forearmed: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11).

Let nothing affect or deplete our joy. The essential character of the joy of the Lord is that it is a joy that remains, and it is a joy that is full. All other joy comes and goes. All other joy is incomplete. But the joy of the Lord is full, and it is forever. God’s love is steadfast. Therefore, while today’s good news may be tomorrow’s bad news; the gospel is always good news. It reveals to us that God’s anger is but for a moment, while His favour is for life. (Psalm 30:5).

So, if you are a believer and are not joyful, it may be because you are not interested in the joy of the Lord and are insistent on your own particular kind of joy. It may be because what you desire is the joy of the world, which is something the gospel does not intend to provide.

Paradoxically, instead of rejoicing that we no longer have the joy of the world, many believers are upset because that is precisely the joy they crave. Worse still, many have been led to believe that what Christianity gives is the joy of the world. But Jesus is not interested in that. Indeed, what He promises in the world is tribulation. He says: “In the world, you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

 

Anxious for Nothing

Jesus therefore makes it the responsibility of the believer not to let his heart be troubled. (John 14:1). The joy of the Lord is immune to tribulation. It cannot be dampened by affliction. It remains in spite of persecution and bereavement. In all these things, the Bible points out that we are more than conquerors through the love of God. (Romans 8:37).

Thus, Paul writes to the Corinthians: “Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulations.” (2 Corinthians 7:4).

However, a believer cannot have the joy of the Lord when he is living in sin. He cannot have the joy of the Lord when he is not bearing fruit. When a man is joyful under those circumstances, it is the joy of the world he is experiencing.

Truly, the joy of the world has nothing for the believer. How many wonderful weddings have you been to that ended in divorce? How many new cars have ended up wrapped around lampposts? How many beautiful homes have ended up burgled or burnt?

Therefore, the Lord cautions us: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Faribisala@yahoo.com; www.femiaribisala.com 

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