A good thief will steal without the victim even knowing….

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

It had been one of those days that had followed on from one of those weeks! Ups and downs, empty bank accounts, kids arguing, spilt breakfast, broken down business vehicles, stressful employees – and I was grumpy.

I was picking up the toys off the kids floor for the 3rd or 4th time that day and started talking to God – again. “Mum, are you talking to God, or to yourself this time?” – a common question from the kids!

“What is going on God? I’m grumpy, hormonal and all sorts of things are breaking down!” A few tears later God placed the word ‘Joy’ on my heart – “Are you serious?”…But after a bit more thinking and nutting things out with God – yes – My Joy had been stolen – and I hadn’t even been aware! I mean, With all the things going on, to each one Paul and I would say, “God will work it out” – and He will, but that’s as far as it went in our hearts. With each thing happening, the thief would take just a bit more joy.

So – that evening, I made a resolve to sit down and learn as much about Joy as I could. As what a treasure trove I found!

The stand out passage was Psalm 43.

Declare me innocent, O God!     Defend me against these ungodly people.     Rescue me from these unjust liars. 2 For you are God, my only safe haven.     Why have you tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief,     oppressed by my enemies? 3

Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain,     to the place where you live. 4 There I will go to the altar of God,     to Godthe source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!

5 Why am I discouraged?     Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God!     I will praise him again—     my Savior and my God!

When facing troubles of any kind, anyone can pray/cryout “Declare me innocent! Defend me! Rescue me!” – Even the devil can ask such things. But the 2 requests/responses that follow this initial one, are requests that display fruits of being a God-loving Christ follower – “Send out your light and your truth! Let your light and your truth guide me, and let them lead me to YOU (God) – who is the source of all my joy!” and “I will praise you! I will put my hope in you! I will praise you again – MY SAVIOUR”.

One thing we can be guaranteed of in this life is trouble and the Christian life is not defined by the absence of trouble or on the contrary, prosperity. Our church families are full of people who are struggling with life each day. Churches aren’t filled with people who have it together, have no trouble and laugh all the time! That’s not a mark of a true Christian anyway. Marriages are shattering into pieces every day, people are struggling with their finances spiraling out of control, children are becoming wayward, people are losing their jobs, gossip and slander and media are distracting people from where their self-worth really lies, lusts and fleshly desires are destroying families, diseases and illness are taking friends and family – and we have the opportunity to share the source of Joy, comfort and Hope amongst it all. We have HOPE because Christ died and rose again shattering the power of sin and He loves us so much that he wants us to be partakers in this victory – everyday! As John Piper so aptly described it, “A Christ-bought, God wrought, sorrowful, yet rejoicing way of life.” – this is what we should strive to display as the body of Christ, not an ungrounded happy clappy joy that we have to keep trying to make for ourselves, that soon fades as troubles loom.

So, I’m on a journey – learning about the source of exceeding Joy, and how to maintain that Joy in the midst of trouble and affliction! Already – I have seen a new perspective and hope to share more of this with you as time goes by.

Don’t let the thief steal your joy!

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;    let them ever sing for joy.Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Psalm 5:11

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