Theology 101

4 Ways to Understand the Gift of Joy

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God created the world in beauty and perfection. Sin shattered that world but could not destroy it. And so we are surrounded by beauty and brokenness every day.

The beauty of creation brings us great joy while the brokenness of it brings great suffering. In his sovereignty and grace, God uses both joy and suffering to shape us and give us hope. To better understand what lies ahead, we must understand why he uses each.

Why joy? To understand the gift of joy in our lives, we should take a look at four main themes.

The Joy of God Over You and Me

First, God’s joy over me is the starting point for my joy. In my wife’s favorite passage of Scripture, the prophet Zephaniah writes that the Lord rejoices over us:

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. –Zephaniah 3:17

Can you imagine the God who created life, oceans, stars, and solar systems rejoicing over you with such gladness that he is singing loudly?!

As a teenager, on warm summer afternoons, I would occasionally take off through winding country roads in my two-door car with the windows down and the radio up, singing for all I was worth. My singing was a natural expression of my joy. Can you imagine what God’s loud singing sounds like (infinitely better than my radio sing-a-longs with Boz Scaggs and Huey Lewis)?

God’s loud singing must be an amazing concert and you must be loved beyond imagination for the Lord to be singing about you with far greater joy.

Because God is joyful over me, I should be filled with joy!

The Joy of Assurance

Second, the fact that all of history is moving towards redemption should give me the joy of assurance:

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. –Revelation 21:2-3

In the twenty-first chapter of Revelation, we peek into the future on a grand scale. All of history is heading towards that final redemptive moment when everything is made new.

We aren’t there yet. Suffering still breaks into our lives. But take heart because the day is coming when we become the bride of Christ, when pain and suffering cease, when tears flow down our checks only in times of joy, when evil and its consequences are destroyed.

In this I have the assurance that paradise lost will become paradise regained.

Because a day approaches in which joy will be amplified and suffering nullified, I should be filled with joy!

The Joy of Being a Child of God

Third, as adoptive parents, my wife Robin and I find few relationships that are filled with as much beauty and joy as adoption.

In its most clearly stated form, adoption is a legal process that brings about relational change. It binds people together and makes them families. The transaction is so effective that there is no distinction between children of birth and children of adoption.

With this in mind, consider this verse from Ephesians 1:

He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. –Ephesians 1:5

If you know Jesus, then you have been adopted. Adopted out of one family and into another. Out of death and into life! Out of bondage and into freedom!

Robin and I adopted both of our girls. When we did, two transactions took place; one was legal and the other relational.

Legally the girls became ours and we became theirs. We are indisputably and undeniably bound together for life.

Relationally, the girls became ours and we became theirs. We are joyfully and gratefully bound together for life. And so it is with Christ. When you become his, he becomes yours—indisputably, undeniably, joyfully, and gratefully!

Because I am forever and irreversibly a child of God, I should be filled with joy!

The Joy of Our Inheritance

Fourth is our inheritance.

In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will. –Ephesians 1:11

With adoption comes the issue of inheritance. Children inherit from parents, so it’s no surprise that with God as our adoptive Father we should inherit his kingdom.

I love the relational language of Scripture. As the bride of Christ, that which is his becomes ours. As the children of the Father, that which is his also becomes ours. The wealthiest people in this world are poor in comparison to the inheritance God’s children will one day receive. Yet, inheritance is not about becoming part of some heavenly jet set. Rather it is about dwelling with Christ and in his kingdom forever.

Because I have an inheritance that will never run out (one that is far greater than simple wealth), I should be filled with joy!

Editor’s Note: On “Flashback Friday,” we take a look at some of IFWE’s former posts that are worth revisiting. This post was previously published on Apr. 1, 2016.

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