I have a friend that says, “the difference between a hero and a coward is the direction she runs when she is afraid.” When I run towards God, even when I am afraid, joy is the gift I am given. Usually it comes when I stop thinking about myself and start asking what God wants from me. How can I best serve Him or others? Joy is confirmation of a choice well chosen. It’s a feeling of communion with God knowing that He loves me, He made me, His plans are better for me than those I have made for myself. Joy comes at moments of humility. Moments when I realized that I am not God and I do not know what is best for me and the people I love. Joy always has something to do with Jesus. For me, joy has come at moments that don’t make sense. When there is no earthly reason I should have joy. It comes in the midst of pain. It comes when I have chosen Jesus.
When I look at the Bible, JOY comes:
as a result of sincere worship (1 Kings 1: 40, 1 Chron. 15:16, Ezra 6:22, New 12:43, Zephaniah 3:14, Luke 24:52),
as a byproduct of service (Matthew 25:21, Luke 6:23, Luke 10:17, 2 Corinthians 1:24, Hebrews 12:2),
a result of an offering (Nehemiah 12:43),
in doing God’s will (Deut. 16:15, Ezra 3 & 6, Luke 15:7, Luke 15:10, John 15:11, 3 John 1:4, Habakkuk 3:18),
as a result of gratitude (1 Kings 8:66),
is a promise of God (Isaiah 60:15, Isaiah 61:7, Jeremiah 31:13, Luke 1:14, John 16:20-22),
or a response to a gift from God (Matthew 2:10, Matthew 13:20, Matthew 13:44, Luke 2:10, John 16:21, Acts 15:3, Romans 15:13).
I think about times I’ve experienced joy in my life. I remember moments like being bone tired serving at a work crew weekend having been on my feet for 36 hours with a short four hour nap in between—serving meals, cleaning, taking out trash… and at the end of that long day washing the feet of my high school girls who were serving alongside me. Service leads to joy. The moment of joy when I felt deep in my heart that God loves me despite an incredibly painful trauma that had just happened I knew deep in my soul he loves me even though I couldn’t see the big picture. Worship leads to joy. I think about the first time we worshiped at Apostles Houston. And the joy I felt that God was calling us to this place, to these people, at this time. Saying “yes” to God leads to joy. I think about a night I knew deep in my soul that God was calling me to a life with Him. And I physically turned away from a choice that I had been making over and over again. Repentance leads to joy.
May our hearts seek God in a whole new way this year. May we run after God and choose HIM at every turn. May we worship Him in joy. May we serve Him. May we be women of gratitude. May we do His will always.
Langley Cumbie lives in Houston with her husband and three children. They attend Apostles Houston, where her husband is the Pastor. She is passionate about sharing the love of Jesus with people who don’t believe.