When was the last time you felt deep joy? I’m not asking when the last time you had a lot of fun was. Fun is just “light-hearted pleasure.” We have fun when we do pleasurable things—playing video games, hanging out with our buddies, etc. We are drawn to pleasure; we wish we could have fun all the time. But fun is like a piece of cheap gum, whose flavor is quickly gone.
But joy is a deeper, more complex emotion—an awe-stricken, humble, grateful gladness. Unlike fun, which is incompatible with suffering and pain, we can experience joy even in the midst of tragic events—when you find the family photo album among the rubbles left by a tornado, for example.
Life can feel like a long journey through a vast desert of work and drudgery, only with a few oases of joy along the way. But that is not God’s design for man. God created man for joy. He didn’t create man because He needed anything from finite creatures. What can a self-existing, self-sufficient God possibly want from mere creatures, to whom He gave all that they have and enjoy? Being perfect and infinite, God is the Essence and Fullness of joy. For man, necessity may be the mother of invention. Not so for God: He created man to share His abounding joy with him: “The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights” (Ps. 36:7-8)! To that end, God gave us this unique ability to experience joy, not just fun and pleasure!
What happened, then, that joy should be such a rare commodity in our lives?
The Bible says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23); “[M]y people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). Do you wonder why your craving for something new and better is never fully satisfied? Why is it that no sooner do we acquire what we’ve wanted so badly than we start wanting for something better? It is because all the objects of our desire are broken cisterns. Only God is the fountain of true and everlasting joy. God desires that we should return to Him and drink from Him, the Fountain of joy.
The problem is that we’d rather keep looking for bigger and better broken cisterns than return to the Fountain of living waters. So, God must bring us back. The good news is that, although we deserve to be punished and banished from God for our rebellion against Him, God did not leave us to perish in our sin and misery. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [i.e., Jesus Christ], that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11); “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
What did Jesus have to do to bring us back to God so we can drink from the river of God’s delights? The Bible says, “Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2); "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). To be reconciled with God, our punishment must be paid. “For the wages of sin is death...” (Romans 6:23). We also need a new heart that delights in God and His will for us. This we cannot do on our own.
To reconcile us to God so we can share in His joy, Jesus paid with His life the penalty of all the sins of those, who put their trust in Him as their Savior. He also rose again from the dead, conquering sin and death, which are the real culprits that kill joy! And through the preaching of the gospel, He invites all who are weary of life to come to the Fountain of everlasting joy and drink deep from it, no matter what our present circumstances may be. For through His death and resurrection, Jesus has taken the sting out of death and bitterness out of our sorrow.
If this message resonates with you, God may be working in your heart already. Confess your sin to God and express your desire to put your trust in Jesus Christ. And go to a Bible-believing church and learn more about the Bible and Jesus. If you would like to ask further questions about the everlasting joy in Jesus Christ, please contact Pastor James at firstname.lastname@example.org.