“O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days”
You already know in your heart that God should be the source of your joy. But your senses don’t seem to get the memo. What do you do? How can you set your affections God-ward so much so that nothing else determines your joy?
Having joy in God requires three miracles. The first is seeing the beauty of Christ and His gospel. Dear brother, dear sister, following Jesus is not a burden; it relieves you of your burdens. See the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
I once saw an illustration of a man struggling to jump over a fence called ‘God’s law.’ Someone kept trying to stop him, but he would have none of it. Headstrong, he jumped over the fence only to discover that he had just jumped over a cliff. It was too late! Even the laws God gives us are not to frustrate us but to protect us. The good news is that when you accept Jesus Christ as Lord, you don’t have to struggle to keep the laws of God. He writes them in your heart and causes you to do them by his spirit (Eze 36:26). If you will have joy in God, you must first be ‘in Christ.’ You will never be truly joyful if you do not see the beauty in the gospel of Christ.
When you believe in Jesus, a second miracle happens! You receive a new heart; one with God-ward desires. God is the one now working in you to will and to do of his good pleasure. You can do right, because you’ve been made right. Joy is no longer forced, but a fruit of your regenerate spirit! Hallelujah! What you must now do is grow in the consciousness of this. You do this by staying in the study of God’s word and insisting on what God’s word says about you in the place of prayer. When you pray, you don’t pray for joy or for God to come and satisfy you. You say things like: ‘I am abundantly satisfied. Out of my belly flows rivers of living water. Joy is a fruit of my spirit.’
When praying for things, even though you have no doubt in God’s ability to provide, you don’t pray as if your joy is dependent on those things. Instead, you say: ‘Lord Jesus, you’re my source. You’ve already freely given me all things. I trust you for this, but regardless of the outcome, I am full of joy. I can abound and abase. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. The third element to a successful ‘Joy Fight’ is heartfelt, expressive obedience and service to God. You must learn to surrender your will to His. If all you care about is doing your own thing, then cannot truly have joy in God. But when you submit to his Lordship, your desires become his desires and your joy is full.