Let joy be the foundation of your life

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"I am the recipient of unexpected joy," was how the card was signed. This hand-penned note (handwritten notes always carry more weight than e-mail) expressed in simple words an abundance of living. This is a good tag line; I have referenced it more than once.

I, too, have been the recipient of unexpected joy.

"The joy of the Lord is my strength." These words were spoken in a time and at a place in history in which joy was not a commonly traded commodity. These words were delivered to people who were discovering what it meant to be a nation again, people who were being reminded of who the Lord is and what it meant to follow after him.

These words were delivered to people who were overwhelmed by their circumstances, sharing their regrets from the past and expressing grief and anxiety for their future. Look forward, the words say, for your strength rests in the joy of the Lord.

These words resonate with all who strive for a well-lived life. Joy is not conditional. Joy, in its basic dictionary definition, is "an emotion of great delight or happiness," but true joy looks beyond circumstances.

People who celebrate joy do so when the market is up and when the market is down. Grief may become a dominant emotion but it never replaces the strength of joy.

A person who lives in the joy of the Lord daily chooses to nurture their soul in his unchanging person rather than base their joy upon the constant flux of the conditions of life. Strength found in the joy of the Lord can withstand the turbulent storms that come our way.

Joy is external, not only in how it is expressed but more importantly, in its foundation. These words, delivered in turbulent times, identify that the source of joy is outside of me. Joy is not based upon my conditions, nor is it based upon my personhood. Personality types vary, but biblical joy transcends them. Biblical joy gives room for all people and all dispositions. The face of joy is not based upon my changing expression but upon the unchanging one.

Joy is not an emotion, it is a foundation. A foundation built upon the Lord. This day choose the joy of the Lord.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at www.robhurtgen.wordpress.com.

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