Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship theLord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. (Psalm 100: 1-2)
The famous Salvation Army song repeats over and over:
“Joy! Joy! Joy! There is Joy in the Salvation Army!”
But what does ‘joy’ actually mean? Are we meant to be happy all the time? If so, I am a complete failure at joy.
It’s officially summertime. As we turn our attention to our missional theme of the month, ‘joy’, we also enter into holiday mode. Most of us will take time to rest and recharge in the next couple of months. Lakes, BBQ’s, summer food and drink, cottages, walks by the beach, bike rides, time with our partners and families, the list goes on.
But we know that not everyone gets the privilege of taking time off this summer. The streets will still be lined with folks with no home. People working 2-3 jobs in order to make ends meet; those with no benefits, paid holidays or sick days will continue to work for 7 days a week. There is so much pain all around us.
How can we experience joy in the midst of that?
I don’t often quote Rick Warren, and actually, this may be from his wife Kay (I can’t quite figure out which of them said it), but this definition of joy seems perfect to me:
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
Yes! That works for me.
It’s a realistic definition of joy.
It takes away my guilt about not being happy all the time. It frees me from my fear that I’m not living up to scripture just because I don’t feel good every minute of every day. It allows me to fully experience the beauty and the pain that I fell all the time, sometimes simultaneously.
If that’s what joy is, and I think it is, then yes there is indeed ‘Joy In the Salvation Army’. Because in the midst of all the beauty and brokenness we see and experience every day, we do have confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right.
That gives me joy enough to be able to take some holidays this summer and enjoy them to the full, without any guilt.
Let’s keep on striving to be ‘The Hand of God in the Heart of the City”.
“We’re depending on God;
He’s everything we need.
What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own his holy name.
Love us, God, with all you’ve got
— that’s what we’re depending on.”
(Psalm 33:20-22 MSG)