I've been talking to Him lately about restoring my joy. Oh, I can find a lot of things really funny and be tickled by the littlest thing, and can be made happy by shopping or having a great meal or getting a compliment, but deep down I have some relationships that pain me so much it causes spiritual backache and joylessness.
While contemplating doing a topical study on joy, I remembered what Pastor Arie had said once in a sermon: " 'Joyless Christian' is an oxymoron." Coming from him, it's easy to see. He is one of the most joyful people I know, and I'm sure it's because he has a handle on forgiveness--what it means to be forgiven, as well as practicing the difficult decision to forgive regularly.
Jesus endured the cross, forgave first, for the joy that was set before Him.
Joy will follow.
My conversation with God went something like this:
"Will you forgive (so-and-so) today?" the Lord asked.
"Well...I'm just afraid I'll have to do it all over again tomorrow," I balked.
"Tomorrow has enough troubles of its own. I'm asking you about today."
"All I can hear are the words pain! pain! pain! when I think how I've been treated and may be treated again!" I admitted.
"Then think forgive! forgive! forgive!"
And in that instant, I heard the words "Joy! Joy! Joy!"
So I said to myself, "That's what I want--joy!"
The Lord said, "It's still about what you want?"
"Yes," I said, convicted. "I want joy. That's not such a bad desire, is it?"
"Not altogether, no. But what about My glory?"
"You're right, Lord. I want what I want more than I want what You want. Please forgive me."
And He did. He faithfully did.
And my joy returned, in part.
Enough to show me, once again,
is a byproduct
So I chose to forgive. And now my joy is complete.
Forgiveness is the horse.
Joy is the cart.
Father, help me remember to put the horse before the cart,
and to put Your glory before the horse!