How Do I “Count It All Joy”?

Joel Smit: Like the inhospitable cold corridors of the emergency hallways we entered, so were the years of trials and tribulations my family endured. Life-altering pain, weekly doctor’s visits, IVs, and deeply weary souls underneath it all consumed the last five years of our life. Like a thief who comes to steal, it has physically, emotionally, and spiritually robbed us, leaving us depleted, weary, and wondering if we would survive. Joy has been rarely perceptible through our enduring loss. However, the seeds of a greater work, and yes, even of a greater delight have begun to sprout and flourish as we peer under the surface of what God is doing. A work that God is doing not only in us but in all who endure trials. Joy does not arise naturally from us as we suffer the effects of the fall of this life. Why would James exhort the readers of his epistle to “count it all joy, my brothers,

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Truer Knowledge Brings Greater Joy

And all the people went their way . . . to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (Nehemiah 8:12) John Piper: The only joy that reflects the worth of God and overflows in God-glorifying love is rooted in the true knowledge of God. And to the degree that our knowledge is small or flawed, our joy will be a poor echo of God’s true excellence. The experience of Israel in Nehemiah 8:12 is a paradigm of how God-glorifying joy happens in the heart. Ezra had read the word of God to them and the Levites had explained it. And then the people went away “to make great rejoicing.” Their great rejoicing was because they had understood words. Most of us have tasted this experience of the heart burning with joy when the word of God was opened to us (Luke 24:32). Twice Jesus said that he taught his disciples for the sake

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The Christian and Joy

Derek Thomas: “The Holy Spirit has exhorted the faithful to continue clapping their hands for joy until the advent of the promised Redeemer,” wrote John Calvin in a comment on Psalm 47:12. Paul would heartily concur! Writing from a prison cell from which he had no certain knowledge of escaping other than to his execution, joy is what came to mind. Joy is what the epistle to the Philippians is all about. So much is Philippians about joy that George B. Duncan once referred to it as “the life of continual rejoicing.” The opposite of joy is misery, and miserable is something we are not meant to be. The Reformers caught the centrality of joy in the affections of Christians when they insisted that our chief goal in life is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (WSC, Q. 1). Christians are tempted, of course, to be discouraged and depressed by the force of overwhelming circumstances. But in such circumstances, we

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God is Happiness

  Sam Storms: Charles Spurgeon, though on occasion depressed and despondent, held firmly to the truth that joy or cheerfulness or happiness must be the aim of every Christian. There are several reasons why he believed this to be true. Here is the first: “Working Christians should, as far as possible, be cheerful of countenance, happy in manner, and merry in heart; and there are several reasons why I think so. They should be happy, BECAUSE THEY SERVE A HAPPY GOD. It enters into the essential idea of God that he is superlatively blessed. We cannot conceive of a God who should be infinitely miserable. . . . As it is true that ‘God is love,’ so is it equally true that God is happiness. Now it would be an exceedingly strange thing if, in proportion as we became like a happy God, we grew more and more miserable. . . . Congruity is to be studied everywhere, and it

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Obedience is the Secret to Joy

  John Piper: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). So we have a great promise: He will give you the desires of your heart. And we have a command: Delight yourself in the Lord. The command is the condition of the promise. So delight yourself in me, God says, and I will satisfy your heart. Somebody asked me one time: Should you pursue joy or should you pursue obedience? And I said, “That is like saying, ‘Should you pursue apples or should you pursue fruit,’ because if you obey the command — Delight yourself in the Lord — you are pursuing joy and so obedience and joy can’t be contrasted like that.” We are called upon to delight ourselves in the Lord. And here is a big glitch for a lot of people. You can’t enjoy a God that you are not sure is for you. If you have

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