Oh look....a Talk Thursday on a Thursday...how ideal. =)
So this Sunday in the Orchard (not a real orchard people - a figurative orchard), our little Veritas kiddos will be learning about the Fruit of the Spirit of Joy. It is elusive and abstract and tricky to wrap our minds around. My question was at first "How do I concretize joy for little people?" (not midgets, just young humans) But then, the more I considered it, the question became "What IS Joy?"
Is joy just being happy all the time? Is it not letting anything get you down? Is the joy joy joy joy down in your heart? (Where?!)
It seemed natural to equate joy with happiness to help the kids see the meaning. And the illustrations were easy - when you're sad, if you have Jesus, you have joy and you can smile. If you have to go to the dentist and are nervous or angry, if you have Jesus, you have joy and you can smile. If your sister punches you in the face and you're crying and bleeding and mad, if you have Jesus, you have joy and you can smile.
That seems right. It seems like people have always said that Christians need to always be happy and have a smile on their face and not let anything get them down.
But then I thought about it again.
If we are created in the image of God and our God is a God of deep, deep emotion (and not just the good ones!), why then does it follow that we as Christians should only emote happy things? When we're sad, we can be sad. When we're angry, it's ok to be angry, as long as we don't sin in our anger. Any emotion that we feel is alright - as long as it doesn't lead to or cause us to sin. If we teach that joy means happiness and that to follow Christ means always being happy, then we are teaching that sadness, sorrow, pain, anger, disappointment, depression, etc are sinful feelings.
I think that the opposite of Joy is Despair. If we lived our lives without the hope of Christ, it is far easier to fall into Despair. But we can have Joy because we have hope in the truth of Christ. We can be sad and angry and all those things and still have JOY because we can still trust Jesus to take care of us. That sounds naiive and too easy, but I think it's meant to be that way.
Our joy is not predicated upon our circumstances; our happiness can be.
So after all that, my question to you is:
Do you have joy?
Is it an easy thing for you to remember?
Do you have the wonderful-love-of-my-blessed-Redeemer-way-down-in-the-depths-of-your-heart? (thanks Psalty!)