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The Great Quest for Joy
by Steven Testone on March 18th, 2011

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23)

Joy is the second fruit listed and I have been very convicted over the past year to experience it more. Sure I have joy from time to time but I wonder if anyone would characterize me as a "joyful person". This concerns me because I think one of the greatest witnesses to others will be when they see the great joy that we have in Christ.

I firmly believe that God created us not because he was lonely or needed us in any way, but purely out of a natural overflow of his love. If love is by nature something that delights in the joy of others, then what else could be more natural for a loving God to do then to create others? Some might wonder if God ever should have created us, but perhaps the real question is could a loving God have done anything else? We were created with the purpose of being the great beneficiaries of God exercising and displaying his goodness. Created with a great thirst and capacity for joy, and that thirst could only be fully quenched by God himself.

The reason we struggle to quench our thirst for joy these days is because we try to quench it in other ways that do not satisfy. Jeremiah 2:13 says it best: "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." We seek for joy in the "broken cisterns" of money or the praise of men. Maybe we seek it in our accomplishments, our job, our entertainment, or even in our churches.

Sometimes we might even earnestly seek joy from God but perhaps as a means to an end instead of as the end itself. As if there were something higher and greater than Him? We should as Christ says: "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33). Perhaps when we do this he will not always give us the desire of our hearts but instead change our hearts to desire something greater and then give us that.

"It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." - C.S. Lewis

If you can relate to any of these desires I would recommend a few things. First I highly recommend reading "Desiring God" by John Piper if you haven’t already. It is an entire book dedicated to this subject and he does a better job explaining it then I can. Secondly I would ask that you join me in praying that God would increase our desire for true joy and give us the wisdom to seek it in nothing but him. It is my great hope that this joy would then naturally turn into a life of true praise and worship, as all things we delight in naturally do, and that others would see this and be drawn to God through it. I don’t want to continue settling for mud pies.

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Trish McCarthy - March 26th, 2011 at 10:46 PM
Thank you for sharing, Steven. Sure liked the part referencing our hearts' desires... That Scripture seems to get very mis-used at times.
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