Episode 1. Why is Joy in Such Short Supply?
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Joy is one of those precious commodities that seems to be in such short supply. We go looking for it everywhere – so many things promise joy, but end up being just a mirage. Why is that? It’s …
Joy is one of those precious commodities that seems to be in such short supply. We go looking for it everywhere – so many things promise joy, but end up being just a mirage. Why is that?
It’s great to be with you on a fresh new week on the program and today we’re starting a series of ten programs, this week and next week, to take a look at joy. It’s such a simple little word isn’t it? Only three letters, one syllable, JOY and yet it seems to be in such short supply. It’s more precious than gold or silver.
Think about it, how many of the people that you know would say, if asked, “I’m really enjoying my life” and if I asked you how much on a scale of 0 to 10 are you enjoying your life, how would you answer? Most people, well most people hover somewhere around the middle or the bottom half. Why is it that joy seems to be in such short supply in this world?
You know something; I’ve travelled to lots of parts of this planet over the years. Places where people are really wealthy, I mean really, really wealthy, places where people are moderately well off, places where people live in, well abject poverty.
I know people who are rich and poor, tall and short, black and white, thick and thin but you know something none of those distinctions seem to have much to do with how much they’re enjoying their lives because they’re all things on the outside and that’s not where it’s at.
You can have everything that money can buy, the latest plasma screen, big new car, phone, clothes, jewellery, you can have all those things and more. A wonderful husband or wife, great kids, you can have all those things and still not be enjoying your life.
I heard a really well known businessman on the TV the other night, he can have anything he wants but you could tell his life was unsettled. He was searching for something, looking for something; he knew he hadn’t arrived yet. You see so often when it comes to joy and the low levels of joy that we’re experiencing, we blame that on the outside things, the external things.
“Well you know, I’d enjoy my life if I had a better job. I’d enjoy my life if, if I earned more money, then I’d enjoy my life and you know something, if all those other people weren’t so difficult, if it weren’t for the politics at work or the tension at home, if it wasn’t for my loneliness, you name it we can blame it then, then I’d enjoy my life.”
You know what I’m talking about, blame, blame, blame. But you know why I know that it’s not the things on the outside that bring us joy? Because I used to be one of those people who absolutely believed that it was. I went on holidays to five-star resorts, I had gold plated taps in the en suite. You name it I had it and I could buy it but the one thing I didn’t have was joy. Actually I felt desperately miserable in all this wealth; you see there’s this big swindle going on.
You may have heard me talk about it before perhaps and I take aim at the advertising industry but it’s not really their fault because what they do is just a symptom of a greedy society. You see they flash up seductive images of success. A businessman has made it or someone who buys a car and has a beautiful wife, they link these images of success to the product they’re trying to sell us and effectively the message they have is “if you buy me you’ll be happy” and so you do.
You spend your hard earned cash, you go out, you buy it and after a week you discover there’s no joy in it at all. And then you watch the next ad, you buy the next thing and it still doesn’t satisfy. “Ah no, when I’m happily married then, then I’ll enjoy my life,” but you know something another person can’t make you happy. I have a wonderful wife, truly, Jacqui is my absolute favourite person on planet earth but I can easily still feel empty or hollow or unhappy even though I have her.
You see we live in a world that’s based on greed. Companies know that so they trade on our dissatisfaction, it’s their basis for earning more money to fill people’s pockets to make them happy, it just never does. Now I’m not against capitalism. I’m not against free enterprise, I’m not against people working hard, they’re things I’ve been involved in all my life. It’s just that they don’t bring you any joy and yet over and over and over again we go looking for joy in all the wrong places.
“You know if I get entertained then I’ll have joy.” Well sure for a short time you feel good but that’s not what I’m talking about, I’m talking about a, a deep abiding contentment, a deep joy that never goes away even through the highs and the lows, the ups and the downs, the good times and the bad times, deep inside there’s this, there’s this joy that we can’t describe, there are no words for it.
That’s what I’m talking about, joy, real joy. Now you might say to me, “Berni, is that what life’s all about? Aren’t you being unrealistic? Are you being a Christian hedonist? I mean, do you think the whole point of knowing God is so that you will feel good?” They’re good questions, well let me tell you something. One of Gods greatest promises is the promise of joy when we have a relationship with Him. It’s not an optional extra for God, He talks about it hundreds of times throughout the Bible and we’re going to look at some of those over this coming week or two.
Just for starters, Psalm 126, verse 5 says:
Those who sow in tears will reap in songs of joy.
And Jesus said to His disciples in John chapter 16, verse 24:
Until now you haven’t asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete.
Joy isn’t some optional extra; it’s an integral part of Gods plan for our lives. So often God says He’s going to do this or do that so that our joy will be complete.
Over this week and next week we’re going to see on the program that God’s joy is the most awesome thing, it’s the most wondrous thing, its part of the nature of God. God’s heart just floods with joy and it’s His joy that He wants to share with us.
Jesus said to His disciples:
I have said these things so that my joy would be in you and your joy would be complete.
See, it’s about God’s joy being in us; it’s not a joy we get from anywhere else. It’s a joy that lasts forever and it’s a joy that comes only from Him. You know the problem we have? I’ve done this and I know a lot of other people have done this and maybe, maybe it’s been in your life too, we go trying to chase down this joy, this elusive little thing called joy and we just always end up looking in the wrong places. And sometimes we miss the blindingly glimpsingly obvious. God is a god of joy, His heart is full to overflowing with His joy and He wants to pour His joy into my life and into yours.