I took a little hiatus last week for the sake of a lovely little stomach flu that seems to be working its way around our area. Just when I was feeling a lot better, whammo, back to square one. But I suppose it was good for something. It got me thinking about where my joy comes from.
Let me ask you a simple question. What’s required, so you can have joy? What’s that last thing you need before you’re truly happy?
For the past 4 months, my answer to this question would have been health. I felt the worst I’ve ever felt. My post surgery recovery for several months was nothing compared to this. I’d rather eat baby food and use an electric shopping cart than deal with constant, debilitating morning sickness.
So when I allowed myself to despair, to feel miserable, joyless, hopeless, the one thing I anticipated making me happier was an improvement in my health. To feel “normal” again, that’s all I wanted. Then I could be happy.
I confessed to Dan that I’d make a horrible invalid. My attitude was all wrong.
I occasionally return to the book of James and the portions I’ve memorized, trying to keep them fresh. And last week, I got convicted by the second verse: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
I wasn’t counting my health trial as joy. I saw it as an obstacle to joy.
But real joy comes from Jesus. It’s one of those fruits of his Spirit, a gift to believers who trust in him (Galatians 5:22). We find our complete and full joy in God alone: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
And what’s left, those little things that we “need” to bring us joy. For me, it was health. You might answer that question with “a new house,” “a good husband,” “retirement,” or “more money.” But those things, when put in the place of God, the real joy giver, are idols.
When I made my health the one condition of my joy, I was making my health an idol. I replaced the true joy giving God with a pathetic replacement. Why would I settle for health when I could have joy, abundant and complete?
Why would you settle?