The Joy of the Whole Earth
“You thrill me, Lord, with all You have done…I sing for joy because of what You have done.”
What brings you great joy?
Children can. A soul mate or friend can. They are so much better than a work or casual association. Health is a joy we seldom appreciate until we have sustained sickness, serious surgery or live with a chronic condition. For those in prison, joy is being visited by the family member whom your eyes ache for. For the innocently accused, joy is acquittal. For the lost in battle, being found is their joy and for a POW, their release. For the worker, joy is time, maybe in a cozy nook at home or a scenic reprieve. For the couple with multiple children, maybe some get away time? For the single, spending great times with friends. For the elderly, joy means visits with family members. For the creative, a work of art. For the writer, authoring a new chapter. (or editing one!) The list is endless, yes?
And then there is the joy found in careless abandon. As a little girl in Michigan, it was the outside play in summer or winter that thrilled me. In summer, we dwelt in a cottage on a lake. I know now how privileged I was. I climbed trees, picked berries, adventured in the woods, fished, swam, played with turtles, and survived mosquito bites. I played Canasta and read comic books. I fell asleep to the serenades of crickets. In winter, the cold delighted us. We reveled in the snow. We slid on the ice in the streets or on sidewalks with glee! We never shrank from it. We formed the snow into balls, figures and structures. We laid in it, or made paths in it to simulate rooms of a house. Once Dad made an ice pond of our backyard! We were breathless and tireless in the cold. This freedom is one of the best joys of all.
Joy is not defined by material things. Temporal materials can be a facet of joy but do not sustain it. It might be fun to have big money, but unless it is used to bless others, might it not drive us? I know of some investors who are married to the Stock Exchange. It dominates their life. They arrange their social life around it. There is no guarantee of longevity with riches; they can dissipate quickly. Money can be extorted in secret and well hidden. Inheritances can be argued over, envied, or dwindled away. Gold has the most lasting quality but it is bound by gravity. “Don’t store up treasures on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them and thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven…where the desires of your heart will be also.” (~Matt. 6:19)
One of the best songs ever written is based on Psalm 48:2, The Joy of the Whole Earth. I cannot say this truth without singing it. The Bible is filled with verses of joy, from Deuteronomy to I John. Their messages lift the spirit. Visit your Concordance and have fun! Or take ten minutes and stroll through Psalms looking for the word joy.
Without Jesus, there would be no joy in this life or in Eternity to come. Whether we realize this or not, God is our base. Without Him, we anatomically and spiritually would be breathless.
Praise God it is His will for us to know joy. “I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them My Word.” ~John 17:13 He does not want us to go through life without the element of joy. Yes, life can be a suffering crucible at times. But since Christ suffered, that demonstrates clearly there will be times we also will be asked to suffer and endure.
“Because of the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame.” (Hebrews 12: 2,3)
A prayer for all of us: Dear Lord, this Lent, this Easter season, we thank you for Jesus, the Joy of the whole earth. Thank you He endured the cross. Because of His sacrifice, we can know joy. Joy flourishes when sin and evil are crushed. Thank You for this costly gift of joy. Thank You that material goods and money do not run our lives. When we suffer, Lord, help us consider ourselves privileged; We get a small helping of what Jesus did for us. In His name we pray. Amen.