More Joy in the Lord

(Photo: Unsplash)

Closing out our journey with the theme of Joy in June, we delighted in sharing Joy with others, as we planted pennies, found God’s handfuls of Joy closer than we thought, and brought Joy to our homes. This week leads us to find more Joy in the Lord despite walking the hard paths of life.

Welcome to Mindfulness Monday! Where we learn some easy ways to be more present “in the moment” at our jobs, in our homes, with our families and friends. Learning to recognize God and what He has for us in each divine moment He offers. We acknowledge the belief that God is with us always. We confess His presence is available to us, lifting our spirit and helping us with power and grace. Learning to “be still”, so we can hear His voice and view ourselves, others and our surroundings through His eyes.

looking for more joy

Steeping in Joy thoughts this month, prompted me to look in unsuspecting places for more Joy in the Lord. Each day found me expectantly searching for a Joy lesson. While some days the lessons met me easily, others caused me no little effort.

But God’s faithfulness never fails, and one day recently, there in the midst of the tragic story of Absalom’s sedition against his father and king, Joy met me.

As many who study the Bible, my preference for interspersing the Psalms into the chapters of first and second Samuel led me to my discovery. As I read the account of Absalom’s sedition in 2 Samuel chapter fifteen to nineteen, I read Psalms three and four, coming upon a shocking discovery in Psalm 4:7.

You have put joy in my heart, More than [others know] when their wheat and new wine have yielded abundantly.

Psalm 4:7 (AMP)

wheat field

Here in the midst of one of David’s greatest sorrows, he speaks of Joy. I chose the Amplified Bible for the verse quotation because it clarifies the psalmist’s meaning in the comparison. David’s Joy in the Lord exceeded the Joy of those who reaped an abundant harvest.

Or in other words, more than those who betrayed him presently enjoyed.

An overcoming joy

At first the comparison seemed trite or shallow; until I considered the author. Penned by the same psalmist, “The cords of death encompassed me;  the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.” (Psalm 18:4-5) contrasted with the outlook conveyed in Psalm 4:7.

No stranger to suffering, David, hunted by Saul, though anointed king; also suffered the loss of an infant son after adultery and murder, and saw his firstborn son murdered by another of his sons. The same estranged son who organized an uprising and stole his kingdom.

Many of the psalms detail his anguish, but not without punctuations of Joy in the Lord.

David’s suffering at the hands of others and as a result of his own folly, draws us to the profound message of Psalm 4:7. His expression of Joy, undiminished by his brokenness, proves the Joy firmly rooted in Christ, retains a resiliency beyond any momentary joy worldly goods can offer.

purple flowers at sunrise

incomparable joy

Even more shocking, David’s declaration of incomparable Joy came not from the comfort of his throne room. A man betrayed birthed Psalms 3 and 4 as he fled from a heart pierced by his own son.

Yet, though broken-hearted and betrayed, watching his beloved son destroy the work of a lifetime, he breathes the words, “You put more Joy in my heart, than those who rejoice at my downfall”.

Though he feared for his life and had no knowledge of the outcome, he praised and rejoiced in the God whose Joy exceeds the joy of sinners on their happiest days. A Joy so immense, no darkness or loss dare quell the depth and fullness of divine delight.

finding more joy in the lord

travel baggage, bible, glasses

A Joy such as David expressed in Psalm 4:7 keeps us not only in the ease of mountain top Christianity, but shepherds us in the valleys of despair, suffering, the wreckage of sin, and life’s injustices.

Finding more Joy in the Lord at these times requires a perspective shift. One David made by coming to God, baggage and all.

Plumbing the depths of wisdom in the few words of Psalm 4:7, we find the path to more Joy in the Lord.

more joy in the hard places

As a writer, I know two things: good writing takes time and never comes easy. Which means the beauty and wisdom of David’s psalms flowed from contemplative time with God.

While you may reflect on past paths leading you to your present place or battle fears of where the current path will lead, only a sacred pause in this present moment allows you access to God.

Finding more Joy in the hard places involves drawing near to God baggage and all, with a willing heart, listening and ready to receive. Set aside a quiet, uninterrupted time and explore the following insights from Psalm 4:7 with God.

Woman looking out window
  • Reflection. David’s words reflect a truth he knows from past experiences with God. Remember, David’s painful life stemmed from his own sin as well as the sins of others. He speaks of a settled Joy having seen God’s mercy in reference to his own sins, God’s deliverance from his enemies and his own fears and God’s unfailing love in every circumstance.
    • When have you experienced God’s mercy? Reflect on His mercy towards you especially recently.
    • From what has God delivered you? Illness? Financial hardship? Relational difficulty? Reflect on these times and His goodness.
    • How have you experienced God’s unfailing love in your sin? In others’ sins against you? In suffering?
  • Relationship. David spoke the words of Psalm 4:7 from a place of intimate relationship with God. They issue forth with the famliarity of long time friends; of a history spent in fellowship.
    • Assess your relationship with God. Has unconfessed sin distanced you from Him?
    • Make your heart completely open to God, allowing the Holy Spirit access to search and reveal areas hindering your intimacy with God.
    • Describe your relationship with God, to God, seeking Him for ways of resting in the security of your relationship.
  • Reality. David spoke from a settled reality sourced in his own consequences of seeking fulfillment and Joy in lesser things, but finding true Joy only in God Himself.
    • Honestly evaluate what Joy looks like for you. Where do you typically look for Joy?
    • Consider if Joy is based in having things go as you wish, or if Joy rests in God’s sovereign goodness in His choices for you.
    • Explore if your Joy relates more to circumstances or outcomes than in God Himself.

You may find journaling or returning to these questions at various times more helpful in exploring your perspective on Joy in the hard places.

more joy in the lord

Sitting with David’s wisdom spoken from the pain of betrayal and failure, revealed the way forward to finding more Joy in the Lord in times of despair, suffering, the wreckage of sin, and life’s injustices.

Through reflection, relationship and reality of God’s unfailing love, David watched his son feast on his wine, his grain and his wealth; fearing for his life and faced with losing all he loved.

Yet he whispers thanks to God for filling him with a Joy sourced in the God of a covenant relationship which would keep him forever.

Leaving for us a promise of more Joy in the Lord even in the midst of our worst situations and sufferings. A promise which gifts us with the knowledge that He will not only keep our lives, but give us more Joy in Him.

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