Joy and peace are elusive qualities. We seek for them, but we don’t find them. Why do we find it so difficult to discover joy and peace? Is it not because we see them as human qualities rather than God’s gifts?
Within ourselves, we look for joy and peace, but they are not there.
What we must learn is this: If we are to discover joy and peace, we must look away from ourselves to the Lord jesus Christ.
When we find Christ, we also find joy and peace.
“O Christ, in Thee my soul hath found, and found in Thee alone, the peace, the joy I sought so long, the bliss till now unknown. Now none but Christ can satisfy, none other name for me. There’s love and life and lasting joy, Lord Jesus, found in Thee.”
This is what must be emphasized. Joy and peace are gifts of God, received through faith in Jesus Christ.
Through Jesus Christ, God has given us the privilege of being His sons and daughters. We do not take it upon ourselves to call ourselves God’s children. God, in love, calls us His children: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called God’s children” (1 John 3:1).
Through faith in Jesus Christ, we become God’s children: “Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God” (1 John 5:1).
What is the joy and peace which we receive through faith in the Lord Jesus?
- It is joy in the Lord (Philippians 4:4).
- It is the peace of God (Philippians 4:7).
When the Apostle Paul calls us to rejoice. he does not say, “Pull yourself together.” He says, “Rejoice in the Lord.”
The Lord is the Source of true joy. Joy is the Lord’s gift to those who put their trust in Him.
It has been pointed out that there is an important difference between joy and happiness. Happiness depends on what happens. Joy depends on the Lord.
Happiness comes and goes, as our circumstances change. Our feelings go up and down, as we go from happy times to sad times.
What about true joy, the joy of the Lord?
It does not depend on changing circumstances. It depends only on the Lord whose love for us is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.
To know that we are loved with a love which will not let us go - this is the source of true joy.
To know that we are loved with an everlasting love - this is our basis for rejoicing in the Lord.
Whatever may happen to us, we can say, with gladness of heart, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
Such joy is so different from the fleeting pleasures of this world:
“Fading is the worldling’s pleasure, all his boasted pomp and show; solid joys and lasting treasure, none but Zion’s children know.”
The contrast between life without Christ and life with Christ is well expressed in the words of the hymn: “All my life long I had panted for a draught from some cool spring, that I hoped would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within. Hallelujah! I have found Him, whom my soul so long has craved! Jesus satisfies my longings. Through His blood I now am saved.”
In the testimony of the believer, there is a striking contrast between the emptiness of life without the Lord Jesus and the joy of knowing Him as Saviour.
“Feeding on the husks around me , till my strength was almost gone, longed my soul for something better, only still to hunger on. Poor I was, and sought for riches, something that would satisfy, but the dust I gathered round me only mocked my soul’s sad cry.”
This is an apt description of life without Christ. It is a life of emptiness, a life which does not satisfy.
Those who have found the Saviour rejoice in a better life, a fuller life, a life of joy and peace.
“Well of water, ever springing, Bread of life so rich and free, untold wealth that never faileth, my Redeemer is to me. Hallelujah! I have found Him, whom my soul so long has craved! Jesus satisfies my longings. Through His blood I now am saved.”
From the beginning of the life of faith, we are to go on, trusting the Lord and enjoying His joy and peace. Jesus says to us, “Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
He speaks these words to us at the beginning of our new life in Him. He continues to offer us His peace, as we walk with Him day-by-day.
Paul says to us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for all His answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace” (Philippians 4:6-7).
If we are to grow in our experience of Christ’s joy and peace, we must practise the words of the children’s chorus: “Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.”
However much we may grow in our experience of Christ’s joy and peace, we must never lose sight of our heavenly hope.
We look forward to enjoying the joy and peace of the Lord in a richer, deeper and greater fuullness than we can ever know here on earth: “we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be … when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
We are not there yet, but we are on the way. With our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, we will be led in the way of joy and peace.
In Jesus Christ, we rejoice. In Jesus Christ, we have peace.
Let us rejoice in Him. Let us rest in His peace.
Rejoicing in Him and resting in His peace, we will be changed by Him. We will learn more of what it means to live together in justice and peace, caring for His world and for each other.