Our Worship Pastor Seth Condrey has written a 5-part devotional series based on the lyrics from his new song, "Great Hope, Great God." I'm excited for him to share part 4 today. I know you will be encouraged.
“You are my joy in the journey.
You are always my reason to sing”
“For the joy set before him... he endured the cross...” Heb 12:2
I used to think that joy, or rejoicing always, was about putting on a happy face and staying positive even in the hardest and saddest of times. I’m no longer convinced that is what joy really is.
Jesus was in agony. He was asking the Father if there was any other way to finish the work of love. The cross was excruciating, and yet, he must have been filled with joy, right? Joy never left Jesus.
Dallas Willard, who has had an incredible impact on my life through his writing and teaching, says this about joy… “Joy is not the mere sensation of pleasure — it is a pervasive, constant, and unending sense of well-being that flows from vision, peace, righteousness, and hope. True joy is robust — even including outright hilarity! We can experience the joy of being in God’s kingdom even in the midst of suffering and loss."
Ten years ago, I was driving down I-85 in Atlanta, when out of seemingly nowhere, the left side of my face and body went paralyzed. I rushed to an urgent care thinking I was having a stroke at 27 years old.
I had no idea what was happening. After panicking in the waiting room for 30 minutes, a nurse walked in and told me I had Bell’s Palsy. For someone who had found “joy” in looking good and having a good image, this experience shook me to the core.
In that same year, my wife lost her mom to a cardiac arrest at age 47. It was a year filled with grief and confusion. All the joy seemed to be sucked out of our lives and replaced with grief and fear.
Looking back, it was during that time that the seeds of true joy were planted. We all have these seasons, don’t we? Seasons where our well-being is tested and the question of what rejoicing really means surfaces.
How can the apostle Paul write from a prison cell, “Rejoice always!”, if joy is circumstantial? He must have known a deeper reality. Like Saint Teresa of Avila said with such calm assurance, “All is well. And all will be well.” Our song doesn’t come just from what happens to us on a day to day basis, but from who Jesus is and what he has done, is doing, and will do.
Almost every day there is something that seems to attack our well-being. But yet, it is well with my soul.
May you remember today that Jesus has made known to us the path of life. He fills us with joy in his presence. The pleasure that we’re all after, is found with Him and in Him. May we become aware of this reality today.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalms 16:11
“I have told you this, so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.” John 15:11
- Seth Condrey