There is a wonderful scene in Anne of Green Gables when young Anne quite dramatically cries out in a fit of self-absorption, “Oh, Marilla, don’t you ever despair?”, and Marilla calmly replies, “To despair is to turn your back on God”.
Despair, hopelessness, and fear find their antidote and are rooted out through praise. As born-again children of God, praise is our joyful response to our Father’s love. It is His command to us over and over throughout the Word, and it is His due-deservedly so! To praise Him is to acknowledge His Kingship in our lives; it magnifies the Truth of His Being, His authority and His loving care; it powerfully establishes God and His loving purposes as the center of your life.
Faith-filled praises to God, our amazed and thankful response to His love and goodness, opens up the door of your heart for the entrance of joy. For how can there not be joy?! Released into His care, trusting His Word, experiencing the “Yes” of God regarding His promises (2 Corinthians 1:20), understanding all that Jesus willingly endured on our behalf, we “exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy” (1 Peter 1:8).
A praising and thankful heart relinquishes concern; it affirms God’s ownership of our lives – every detail of our lives -and it expects God’s faithfulness to His Word and His promises (Romans 4:21, Hebrews 10:23). Not only is a joyful heart the direct result of praise, it is, like salvation, a gift of God to us. Heavenly joy is not something we manufacture; it is not just a happy by-product of praise. We are the blessed recipients of His joy. He made us – He knows how our bodies function. He tells us:
A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing. Proverbs 17:22
The joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold. Nehemiah 8:10
In John 15:1-11 Jesus explains to us the importance of Vine life. He is the Vine, we are the branches. Living vitally connected to Him we bear much fruit, and in so doing we honor our Father. He then completes the teaching with:
I have told you these things that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing. (Verse 11)
For years I mistakenly interpreted this verse as saying that if we remained connected to Him, He would have joy and delight in us; that would make Him happy. In fact He is saying that His joy would transfer into us through our connection with Him. The Message Bible offers:
I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that My joy might be your joy and your joy wholly mature.
In Christ, vitally connected to His power we have His joy. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit within us (Galatians 5:22) As with all other aspects of Kingdom life, it is by faith that we operate in such joy. It is by faith that we understand that the joy of the Lord, “joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:3), the joy of Jesus Himself is within us. It is ours. Allow this Truth to inform your days, your outlook, your every response. It will positively and profoundly color your world!
You will show us the path of life; in Your Presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)