O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hands have made…
Then sings my soul, O Lord my God: to thee,
How great thou art!
That’s what joy means to me. Without God I cannot imagine what real joy is. When I was asked to write an article about joy, joy filled my heart as I love to write and God knows it! He knows his children intimately and wants to use them with their skills. Isn’t that amazing? God who created the universe, heaven, earth, moon and galaxies, wants to be involved in human lives!
I thank God that he gave me eyes to admire him in his creation: ‘Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun’ (Eccles. 11:7). I think God wants us to praise him for his creation; the Psalms are full of it. I remember a sunrise on a winter morning when the world was covered with fresh fallen snow. The sun rose over the fields as orange as an orange. It was breath-taking. The sunsets I witnessed in Harlech, North Wales, during a summer holiday were some of the highlights of that particular holiday. And in my heart I praise God for his creation.
My family and I have visited Wales several times, and I can’t get enough of it. I just adore the beautiful coast and I love the mountains. The beautiful hills of the Brecon Beacons and the majestic roughness of the mountains in the North. ‘You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Saviour…who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength’ (Ps. 65:5-6).
But it is not only for the beauty of the country that we keep coming back. It’s also because of the Christian friends we have made. It’s been encouraging to us to worship with Welsh believers in the sometimes small churches. To do Bible study together, to encourage and be encouraged by these bold believers. Joyful memories!
But still, this kind of joy is fragile. So often joy depends on circumstances and is therefore impermanent. Creation is subjected to frustration (Rom. 8:20). And there is so much suffering and misery in the world. One cannot close his eyes for that!
I myself suffered from depression for quite some time. I didn’t enjoy the warmth of the sun and snow left me indifferent. My experience of life around me seemed greyish and inside of me simply black.
Through this time God lovingly and very patiently taught me to fully trust in him. He gave me Christian friends who prayed for me and, if necessary, rebuked me. I learned not to look at circumstances but to fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:3). He loves us and he is enough for us. Out of love he died for us. Not only for the whole world but even for insignificant me! Incredible but true! And how I needed him. In my feelings my world was falling apart but he was still there. Unshakable, unchangeable, loving, perfect Father. Wow!
Now I understand what James means in his letter (1:2-4):
Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Well, if that’s the purpose of all this, then thank you Father! My circumstances haven’t changed much, but my view on life has! ‘For I am convinced that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom. 8:38-39). ‘I can do everything through him who gives me strength’ (Phil. 4:13).