I still have joy

Published 11:03 am Saturday, December 23, 2017

by Joseph Perry

This is a statement that came from a family whose house caught a fire a few days ago. The husband stood there with his wife and children, in front of their newly assigned pastor, and said, “Pastor, I still have joy.” After all the things they had been through he said, ‘I still have joy.’

In order to have joy after losing everything you had, days before Christmas, days before the beginning of a new year, you have to be rooted and grounded in the Lord, you have to have real faith. Because there are some folk who can sing it, they can shout it and preach it, but how many of us can say it when we actually are going through it? From the pulpit to the pews, when our faith is tested can we still uphold the banner of joy?

Oftentimes when we are going through our trials, we walk around upset, mad and unhappy. Like, someone has wounded us and hurt us to a point of no return, we can’t recover. We walk around sometimes with our heads hung down, and in a state of torment and torture. When these times come, we must remember who we are. What I’m saying to you is, we must never forget who we are in The Lord. In spite of it all, we still got to have joy.

I have gladness in my heart, I have a calm delight in my spirit, I have a spirit of cheerfulness, I can rejoice in all things. The Bible declares that the joy of the Lord is my strength. James said ‘Count it all joy when you go through trials.’

The angels from on high said ‘We bring you good tidings of great joy.’ Having joy should be the hallmark of who we are regardless of the situation. Whatever we’re facing, we still can declare to the world that we still have joy.

It’s bad when you can’t even come to church and fellowship with one another, come and worship and praise God for his grace and mercy. You can’t usher, can’t sing or even preach, you can’t lift your voice and rejoice because you’ve lost your joy as you deal with the calamities and catastrophes of life. You have to know that trials and tribulations are going to come. You had to know that everything is not always going to be a life full of only a bliss of good times and happiness. No, Jesus told us that in this life we will have tribulation, but be of good cheer.

Isaiah is now preparing to share a word with Israel; he has been called to say something to God’s chosen people after they have gone through defeat. They would experience punishment and judgment, but later they would be restored. However, in their current state they felt defeated.

Defeat will do something to you. Is there anyone in here who has ever been defeated? Your job was not a success, your marriage failed, your friendship lost, you didn’t get the grade you worked so hard to get, your child ended up on drugs or in jail, you said or done the wrong thing again, every time you think you’re getting up, something brings you back down.

Defeat can in a negative way bring about a loss of energy, lose of confidence, lose of feeling successful, loss of joy. Why, because you’ve been defeated. God’s people in this setting has experienced some challenging moments, some tough times.

Many of them felt the pressure, the stress of life even as God’s people who have been called out to be the church, but now they have lost their joy.

Folks who look at you can tell when you have lost your joy. You can put on a different kind of make-up, buy you a new outfit from Macys, change your hairstyle, but folks can tell when your spirit is low. You can go to family gatherings and go to your weekly meetings, sit at your desk at work, step in Walmart, come sit in the church and look around and rock from side to side, and folk will know when you’ve lost your joy.

Isaiah said the spirit of the Lord is upon me. Eugene H. Petersen, the author of “The Message Bible” says the Spirit of the Lord is on me, it’s on my life. The Holy Spirit is on our lives, and lives in us to help us to have joy. In other words, it’s most difficult to have joy in tough times when I do not have Jesus living in my life. That’s why folk walk around miserable and depressed. They’ve put on sackcloth and ashes and act as though they do not have Jesus in their life.

To keep me with joy, and not with just a sense of joy, I got to remember the benefits of salvation.

  1. My relationship with the Lord. You see, my relationship, my connection with the Lord should mean everything to me. That even whatever I go through, I know I still have my Lord with me. And I know “He walks with me, and He talks with me and He tells me I am his own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”
  2. My renewed fire in the Lord. What I’m saying is that being saved, and going through my trials … when I read my Bible it lets me know that He’s working on me for something greater. Don’t ever think that God has forgotten about you. That ought to give you a spirit of renewed fire to run and tell the world, that hey, “this is the day that the Lord has made and we shall rejoice and be glad in it.”

Is there anybody reading this article who knows greater is coming? Keep your joy in your heart no matter what! And that’s a thought to remember.

JOSEPH A. PERRY is pastor of St. Luke AME Zion Church in Franklin. Contact him at either 252-339-0008 or josephp134@gmail.com. You can hear his radio broadcast at 6:45 p.m. each. Sunday on WKGM940.